How to Talk to Your Kids About Vaping

JUUl, vapes, vape pens – there’s a variety of terminology thrown around but they all mean the same thing: e-cigarettes. No matter what term you hear being used, they’re all dangerous. 

A huge misconception is that vapes are just water vapor and flavoring. This is not accurate. One JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes – that’s one entire pack of cigarettes. Vape pods also contain toxins and carcinogens, including formaldehyde, propylene glycol, and acrolein, which can cause irreversible lung damage. 

The Big Tobacco companies are targeting teenagers to become vape users. What can you do, as a parent, to stop your child from becoming a victim of their targeting? Use the following tips to have a healthy conversation, and as always – let your child know you are on their team.

  • Choose the right time and place 

Choose a time to talk to your child when you are both relaxed and comfortable. This will allow you both to open up more freely. Consider a time when you are riding in the car on a trip that you won’t be rushed, or sitting at the dinner table. 

  • Appeal to their good judgment

Your child makes smart decisions multiple times a day. Their choice to say no to vaping can be one of them. Highlight their good judgment and the good choices that they have the power to make. Remind them how strong they are and that they do not need to be influenced by peer pressure. 

  • Ask open-ended questions

By asking open-ended questions you are encouraging your child to participate in the conversation. Asking simple yes or no questions gives them an easy out to disengage. 

Here are some conversation starters you can use to talk to your child about vaping.

  • What have you noticed with students vaping at your school? Are your friends vaping? 

Be sure you don’t react, just listen. 

  • What do you think about vaping? 

Your child might say, “It’s harmless – it’s just flavored water vapor,” but it’s not and you’ll share more about that next.

  • Do you know what is in JUUL pods and other vapes? 

Then tell them you have been studying and here’s what you know: 

• Vape pods contain harmful ingredients, including formaldehyde, propylene glycol, and acrolein (e-‘krō-lē-en), which causes irreversible lung damage. It’s not just water vapor, and it’s not safe. 

• Even the Surgeon General has established how dangerous vaping is. JUUL commercials and paid influencers will try to make it look safe, but it is not. 

• Most vaping manufacturers, including JUUL, are owned by tobacco companies, the same companies that sell addictive cigarettes, which cause millions of deaths. These companies are now focusing their marketing efforts on replacing former cigarette customers with kids, by hooking them on e-cigarettes.

  • What have you heard about vaping and its impact on your health?

Tell them why that matters. 

• Vaping is smoking – one JUUL pod can contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. 

• Once you start vaping, nicotine addiction follows – and quitting is really hard. (At this point, if you’re a smoker or former smoker, you may want to share your own experience with nicotine addiction.) 

• Your lungs will suffer the effects – maybe not today, but eventually. There are multiple cases in the news of kids having seizures from e-cigarette nicotine poisoning, experiencing vaping-related lung injuries, and even death. We don’t even know yet how bad this is going to be for your health long term

  • Do you know the other ways vaping affects your life? 

Tell them why they should care. 

• Over time, the chemicals in e-cigarettes will affect your attention span, memory and lungs. 

• Once you’re addicted, vaping will be the boss of you. Even when you don’t want to do it, you’ll have to do it. And that’s only good for the tobacco companies.

• You’re smarter about health than previous generations were. Vaping goes against all the other healthy choices you’re already making. 

Consider this an ongoing conversation. At first, your child might be caught by surprise and defensive. But once they know you are open to talking about vaping, they will feel more inclined to talk to you about it later. 

Here are some links that you and your child can explore together or independently: 

Surgeon General: E-Cigarettes.SurgeonGeneral.gov/ 

CDC: CDC.gov/tobacco/

American Lung Association

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