Learning About How to Talk With Your Child or Teen About Vaping
What is vaping?
Vaping is using a battery-powered device to inhale liquid nicotine or other chemicals. These devices are called vapes, e-cigarettes, or vape pens. They can look like everyday items such as pens or USB flash drives. They use liquids that come in different nicotine strengths and flavours. Some use THC (a chemical in cannabis [marijuana]). THC changes how you think, act, and feel and can make you feel "high".
Why does it appeal to children and teens?
Vapes are the most common tobacco product used by children and teens. Vaping companies can market their products on TV and radio. They also offer many flavours that appeal to youth, like cotton candy, gummy bear, and fruit. Many children and teens think vaping is cool. Devices are easy to hide and use.
What are the safety concerns?
More research is needed before experts can tell if vaping is safe. The long-term health effects aren't known. Here's what experts are learning about vaping.
- It's not harmless water vapour.
- The "vapour" made by vaping isn't a vapour at all. It's an aerosol cloud made of chemicals suspended in a gas. This vape aerosol contains chemicals known to be harmful.
- It likely has nicotine.
- Nicotine is addictive. It's harmful to developing brains, such as in unborn babies, children, and young adults up to age 25. Liquid nicotine can be lethal if swallowed. Keep it out of children's reach.
- It may cause a deadly lung disease.
- There have been outbreaks of lung disease and death related to vaping. Some sources call it vaping-related lung injury. Many of these may be from vaping products with THC. But the exact cause isn't known.
How can you talk with your child or teen about vaping?
Starting to talk with your child about vaping can be as simple as asking, "What do kids at school say about vaping?" These tips can help you have a healthy, open, and ongoing discussion with your child.
- Find the right time and place to talk.
Talk when everyone is calm. You'll both be more willing to be open and honest.
- Have a chat, not a lecture.
Instead of saying "we need to talk," find ways to have a casual conversation. You want your child to feel comfortable being honest with you. Ask questions like:
- What do you think about vaping?
- What have you heard about vaping?
- Do kids vape at your school?
Listen to your child's answers, and don't get mad at what you might hear.
- Help them sort through the information they get.
Teens hear a lot about vaping. They may hear about it from friends or see ads on TV or online. What they hear isn't always right. Ask them what they've heard. Then share what you've learned.
- Focus on the short-term effects of vaping.
You may care about the long-term risks. But kids are often more interested in the short-term stuff. Talk with them about things they care about right now. You might say:
- "Vaping may change the way your brain works. You might forget things or have trouble focusing."
- "Vaping may make it harder to breathe. You might have trouble playing your sport or instrument."
- "Vaping costs a lot of money. It may seem small, but costs add up. The more you vape, the more you spend."
- "Big companies are trying to get you hooked. They want you as a lifetime customer. How do you feel about that?"
Adaptation Date: 8/3/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services