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My teen is vaping, what can I do?

Man looking concern at son(Published January 3, 2022)

Vaping among teenagers continues to rise. Boasting fruity flavors and convenient and often easy to hide devices it is no wonder teenagers see the allure of these e-cigarettes. In fact, new data from the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students reported using e-cigarettes.

Closer to home, the 2018 Iowa Youth Survey found that one in four 11th grade students used tobacco. The vast majority prefer e-cigarettes to traditional tobacco products. In 2018, 22.4 percent of 11th grade students admitted to using e-cigarettes in the last year. That is even higher than the number of 11thgrade students who used alcohol.

This news might be worrisome to you, but know that many parents are in your same situation. Arming yourself with as much information as possible and having open discussions with your child about vaping is a good start. Oftentimes, how a parent reacts when they discover their child is vaping can have a huge impact on their child’s behavior. 

If you want to help your teen quit vaping, here are a few tips for talking with them about vaping:

1. Know the facts. Start by recognizing vaping products, how they are disguised (USB flash drive, a pen or even a watch). According to a Truth Initiative study, fewer than half – 44.2 percent – of parents could identify a picture of a JUUL as a type of e-cigarette. More than one third could not recognize the device at all. Educate yourself on the products and the risks of vaping.

2. Give them time. Teenagers often struggle to articulate themselves. Give them the space to say what they need to say without scolding or jumping all over them. Rather than asking your teen directly, create an environment that is easier for your teen to talk about it. For example, in the car when you are driving, ask, “I hear vaping is popular at school, are your friends doing that?”

3. Check your emotions. Approach your teen from a place of nonjudgement. This can be hard. You feel lost and maybe even a little desperate to help your child stop, but be patient. Approach the conversation as a way to understand versus judge.

4. Assess the situation. Your teen may want to stop but they may be having a hard time doing so. Many young people are not aware they are consuming nicotine when they use e-cigarettes or that nicotine is an addictive drug. Try to determine if your teen is struggling to stop vaping.

A new youth tobacco-cessation program is now available in Iowa called My Life My Quit. This program is free and confidential. Your teen can text “Start My Quit” to 1-855-891-9989 and start their quit journey 

If you are not sure how to navigate a discussion, Your Life Iowa has additional resources and experts 
available to help you. All of our services are free and confidential.