As kids begin a new school year, it’s important for parents to understand the prevalence of vaping in Utah and talk to their kids about the dangers of vaping.

Vape pens and e-cigarettes look like schools supplies so they’re easily disguised as things they are taking to school in their backpack. 

1 in 5 Utah high schoolers use e-cigarettes. Despite what is written on the vape product packaging, a study showed 99% of e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine harms the developing brain and puts youth at increased risk for addiction to other drugs. Nicotine use in adolescence can affect attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.

The e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device contains harmful substances. Believe it or not, children and teens listen to their parents. In fact, studies have shown that when parents talk to their children and express strong disapproval about vaping, they are less likely to try it. Just remember — you can make a difference.

Here are some tips for talking to your teen about vaping:

  • Stay calm, be direct, and approach the conversation with love.
  • Go take some one-on-one time when your child feels like they can talk safely and openly.
  • Tell them about what you learned about vaping. Share what stood out to you during your research. Letting your child know that this is also new to you will help them feel like you’re not talking down to them.
  • Ask them, “Have you ever considered this to be a problem?”
  • Ask them for suggestions and make them the expert.
  • If they minimize the issue, help make it real.
  • Set clear boundaries. Don’t leave room for confusion. Tell them directly and lovingly what is and is not allowed.

There are a few signs and things parents can look for to see if their child is vaping:

  • Look for unusual or unfamiliar items.
    • Some vaping devices may look like benign objects in disguise. JUUL designed its devices to resemble USB drives that can be hidden and charged in plain sight. Other manufacturers are now designing vape devices that resemble watches, pens, markers, and other common objects.
  • Watch for behavioral changes, mood swings, or agitation.
    • Medical studies have shown that vaping nicotine substantially diminishes the prefrontal cortex of a young brain, which largely governs emotional control, decision making, and impulse regulation. Mood swings, agitation, impulsivity, secretiveness, memory loss, inability to concentrate, and anxiety are some of the key changes you may see.
  • Shortness of breath.
    • If your child is an athlete and starts having trouble breathing during practices or games, it could be due to vaping.
  • Smelling sweet fragrances.
    • Most children and teens prefer sweet-flavored e-juice. Catching whiffs of fruit or candy-like aromas could be evidence of vaping.

Parents can visit the website to find more information and tools to help their teen quit.

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