Generation Vape: How to Talk to your Teen about the Risks of E-Cigarettes
Parents are talking to young people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but too often these conversations fail to cover the risks of vaping. A Royal Children’s Hospital ‘Child Health Poll’ found that 57% of parents have never discussed e-cigarettes with their teen. Yet around 14% of young people aged 14 – 17 years have tried vaping.
E-cigarettes, also known as ‘vapes’, are electronic devices that heat liquids to create aerosol that users inhale.
Aerosol is a fine spray of chemicals and small particles that can lodge in the lungs. As these products are new to the market, there is no quality and safety standards on devices, liquids, and labelling.
Vapes contain chemicals and toxins commonly found in bug spray, weed killer and nail polish remover. Short term risks associated with vapes include vomiting, shortness of breath, poisoning, nausea, headaches, lung damage and heart palpitations. Vaping can negatively impact growing bodies and brains and is likely to cause lung and mouth cancers.
The majority of vapes contain nicotine, even if they are labelled otherwise. Nicotine is highly toxic, and the most addictive substance known. Young people who vape are 3 to 5 times more likely to take up smoking later in life.
Here are some tips for chatting with teens about the risks of vaping:
• Know the facts – keep up to date with the latest information by consulting your local GP and organisations such as the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (adf.org.au).
• Keep the conversation open, calm, and non-judgmental – Use a respectful tone of voice and body language.
• Avoid lecturing, judging, or going through your teen’s space looking for evidence – prioritise trust with your teen. We are all more likely to consider information shared with us by somebody we trust.
• Avoid exaggerating the dangers – share the facts simply and calmly.
• Explain your concerns – let your teen know you care about their health and wellbeing.
• Be a positive role model – a young person is about 55% more likely to try e-cigarettes if they have a parent who smokes. Avoid using any nicotine products in front of your children.