What Every Parent Needs to Know About E-Cigarettes

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Many teens are being lured into smoking e-cigarettes. Many of them mistakenly believe that "vaping" isn't harmful to their health. And unfortunately, many parents also don't understand the dangers that e-cigarettes pose.

What are E-Cigarettes?

E-cigarettes, short for electronic cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that closely resemble real cigarettes. A cartridge filled with liquid that contains nicotine, as well as other flavors and chemicals, is placed inside.

When turned on, a heating device converts the liquid into a vapor that is inhaled.

They come in several different flavors, which can be appealing to teens. Flavors like dark chocolate raspberry and sour cherry make e-cigarettes sound more like they're made from candy, rather than harmful chemicals.

E-cigarettes aren’t taxed as heavily as traditional cigarettes. So often, they’re a cheaper alternative for teens. E-cigarettes are also much more readily available to teens. In places where nicotine products can’t be sold to minors, many teens are purchasing e-cigarettes online.

Although e-cigarettes were originally considered to be a stepping stone for smokers looking to quit, research shows that teens may be starting their smoking habit with e-cigarettes. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center found that teens who are using e-cigarettes have never smoked traditional cigarettes.

Dangers of E-Cigarettes

Since e-cigarettes don’t fill the lungs with smoke, many people believe that they don’t pose any health risks. But that’s not true. E-cigarettes still contain nicotine, which is addictive and can be toxic in high doses.

Nicotine provides an initial increase in blood pressure and heart rate.

After those initial effects wear off, the body starts to go into withdrawal. This can lead to irritability, mood swings, and fatigue. To get rid of those withdrawal effects, teens use more nicotine. Eventually, they become dependent on it.

Regular nicotine use can have harmful long-term side effects as well. Blood clots, stomach ulcers, and heart disease are a few of the problems teens using e-cigarettes may experience.

Prevent Your Teen from Using E-Cigarettes

A proactive plan to prevent your teen from smoking is the best way to promote good health. Talk to your teen about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, including the dangers of smoking both traditional and e-cigarettes.

Find out what your teen knows about e-cigarettes, or “vaping” as it’s often called. Ask questions such as, “Are kids in your school smoking e-cigarettes?” or “Why do you think so many teens are smoking e-cigarettes these days?” Start a thought-provoking conversation and show that you’re really interested in learning what your teen has to say.

Educate your teen about the potential dangers of using e-cigarettes. Teens who understand that they can pose serious risks to their health are less tempted to pick up the habit

Intervene if Your Teen is Using E-Cigarettes

Some parents are tempted to look the other way when they discover their teen is using e-cigarettes. They assume it’s not as harmful as real cigarettes and think, “At least he’s not using drugs.” But ignoring the issue could lead to health problems and your teen may eventually begin smoking traditional cigarettes.

If you discover that you’re teen has been using e-cigarettes, sit down and discuss the issue calmly. Talk about the health dangers as well as other problems that could inspire your teen to quit – such as the money it costs to smoke e-cigarettes.

Create a plan for quitting and work with your teen on putting an end to nicotine use. Set an appointment for your teen to see a doctor. A doctor may be able to provide additional resources to help your teen quit smoking.

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