DOWNLOAD: Talk with Your Teen About E-cigarettes: A Tip Sheet for Parents
(Source: U.S. Surgeon General)
You want to talk to your kid about vaping, but you don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry – we have your back so you can have your kid’s back. Together, we can get Big Tobacco’s target off all kids’ backs.
Key Conversation Tips
Here are some tips to consider before you have a conversation with your kids.
- Your goal is to keep the conversation going. Nothing shuts down communication faster than yelling, judging, criticizing, or pressuring. A better approach is to listen, ask questions, and be supportive. Listen more, talk less.
- Don’t freak out. Just because they know or are asking about vaping doesn’t mean they’re doing it. Pause before you respond and recalibrate if your knee jerk response is to freak out.
- Look at where and when you’re holding the conversation. Are you trying to start a conversation about vaping while they’re focused on studying for their math test or playing a video game? These talks are sort of like a round of jump rope; you need to know when to jump in. Look for low-pressure moments. For example, while you’re cooking and they’re snacking at the kitchen table. Or talk about it in the car, which removes the pressure of eye contact. You know your kid, and you know when they’re most receptive to a conversation.
- Keep the touchpoints quick. Quick, frequent conversations are much more effective than one big sit down conversation. There’s too much pressure in a serious sit down, and your kids may tune you out.
- Look for teachable moments. Don’t bring it back to people they know; no one wants their friends judged. But e-cigarettes are often in the news or part of an assembly at school. Make the conversation relevant, and your kid won’t feel like you’re bringing up vaping out of the blue.
- Remember that it’s fine to not have all the answers. Whether it’s about vaping or about how to combat peer pressure, you’re not all-powerful. So admit that you’re in this journey together, and you’ll figure it… together.
Now, deep breath and dive in…
Sample Conversations + Responses
If you’re struggling to find the words for how to address vaping with your kids, here are some of the most common conversation threads + sample responses:
Open the conversation with a question to gauge how much your child knows.
- I read an article today about vaping. Do you know what vaping is?
- My friend was telling me that her kid is getting awful peer pressure at school to vape. Have you ever felt pressured to vape?
- My friend told me she found a vaping device, and it made me wonder: Do you know what an e-cigarette looks like?
Your child may then kick off what will be the heart of the conversation. Here are some possible responses:
If they tell you that they’re being pressured to vape:
- Thank you for sharing that with me. Peer pressure is really, really hard.
- You can try being firm: “No thanks, I’m good.” But I know that is sometimes easier said than done.
- It helps if you’re not alone. So if you can find someone else in your group to take the stand with you, that would help.
- It’s also okay to just get yourself out of there if you’re feeling pressured. Make up a reason you have to leave the conversation. And I will always be your excuse! Just text me the letter “X,” and then I can text that I need you to come home. It gives you an easy way to say, “Hey, gotta go. My parents just asked me to come home.”
If they say that they think vaping isn’t bad for you, challenge them with a few facts:
- This isn’t just harmless water vapor. It’s an aerosol of nicotine, propylene glycol, solvents, chemical flavorings, and more. They’re not well-regulated, so we actually don’t even know everything that’s in them. Putting unknown chemicals and particles deep into your lungs is not safe or healthy.
- E-cigarettes contain nicotine just like regular cigarettes, which is why they’re highly addictive.
- One pod often contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes – or more.
- Nicotine harms your brain. It can affect your memory and concentration. And it trains your brain to be more easily addicted to other drugs.
If they point out that e-cigarettes seem harmless because they come in candy flavors:
- That’s because the tobacco/e-cigarette companies are using flavors that appeal to kids so they’ll try them and get addicted.
- Tobacco companies have been luring kids with all kinds of flavored products for decades. Flavors just make it easier to start.
If they say, “You smoke / smoked, why shouldn’t I?”
- Hey, I’m not perfect, and I’ve made plenty of mistakes that I’m hoping you won’t make.
- I should have never started smoking. Quitting was really hard, and I don’t want you to go through that. And I’m afraid of what kind of damage I’ve done to my body.
- Quitting is really hard and I haven’t been able to do it. I don’t want you to have to go through that someday.