If you feel sidelined by the trendiness of vaping, you’re not alone. Seemingly what feels like overnight, vaping has become the latest addictive substance. According to the CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than one in four high school students reported vaping in the past month. The heightened awareness and use are most likely a result of the increased advertising geared towards teens and young adults, the brightly colored vape pens, and the thousands of flavors users can choose from.

It’s a serious issue that parents need to be educated on.

The terms vape and e-cigarette are often used interchangeably by the media and civilians. However, they are two distinctly different things. An e-cigarette is an electric cigarette. Generally, e-cigarettes consist of a one-piece unit and are thrown out after one use. On the other hand, vapes have a rechargeable battery and refillable tank. You can use them repeatedly, mix and match different parts, and fill with any available vape e-liquid.

Vaping puts nicotine into the body. Nicotine is highly addictive and can slow brain development and increase the risk of other types of addiction as an adult. The nicotine can affect a kid/teens memory, concentration, learning, self-control, attention, and mood. The vapor contains harmful chemicals and very fine particles that are inhaled into the lungs and exhaled into the environment.

What’s the big deal with nicotine? Here are some general truths we know:

• Your brain is still developing until about the age of 25. The Surgeon General reported that nicotine is addictive and can interfere with your brain development.

• Using nicotine at a young age can make it harder for a teen to concentrate, learn, or control common impulses.

• Nicotine can train your brain to be more easily addicted to other drugs such as meth and cocaine.

• The cloud that people exhale from vapes and e-cigarettes can expose others to chemicals that are not safe to breathe.

Teens are obsessed with vaping because it’s the new thing to do. Remember when Joe the Camel was the smooth character advertised on billboards and magazine ads? Well, vaping is the new cigarette. Also, because it is new, there isn’t a ton of data and statistics to prove how dangerous it truly is. However, we can use the lethalness of cigarettes as a gauge to compare and analyze.

With a cartoon camel as a spokesperson, it was clearly evident that tobacco companies were targeting a younger demographic, and the same is true with vaping. E-cigarette and vaping manufacturers have gone on the record to confirm the flavorings were created to appeal to young people. Flavors such as butter crumble and berry assortments are among the most popular.

Here is what we do know about vaping and some real truths that you can share with your teenager:

Vaping nicotine can damage your blood vessels.

Studies have found that nicotine exposure may create chronically alterations to your organs and increase an individual’s risk for cardiovascular events in the future.

Nicotine is one of the most toxic of all poisons and has a rapid onset of action; therefore, vaping weakens your immune system.

Studies have identified damage to nervous receptors exposed to nicotine. The actions of nicotinic receptors produce a wide variety of acute and long-term effects on organ systems and cell multiplication throughout the body.

Some studies have found that some vapes contain lead, nickel, tin, silver, formaldehyde, manganese, toluene, and other chemicals links to cancer and central nervous system problems.

With increasing popularity, many vapes are being sold and purchased outside of regulated brick and mortar stores. Therefore, products are being sold with adjustments to vape pens and substances. These adjustments can vary from adding rogue substances or mishandling and removing key proponents of the vape pen.

Now that you know the facts, you may be wondering about the next steps. We recommend taking a proactive approach versus a reactive approach. Educate your teenager about vaping and communicate why it is a bad decision. But do not just tell them it is a poor decision, provide them with facts and research. Share the links we have shared with you and help them gain a better understanding.

Next, remember:

• Be patient and ready to listen to your teen’s feedback.

• Avoid criticism and encourage ongoing open dialogue. Do not present a lecture and invite your teen to research the topic, if you do not have an answer.

• The conversation doesn’t have to end in one session. Be willing to answer questions and discuss the topic of vaping in future dialogue.

• Remind your teen that it’s never too late to quit.

We know that these conversations can be awkward and feel more like a public service announcement. So, we encourage you to actively find the right moment to chat with your teen. Here are some natural ways you can begin the discussion:

• After seeing someone use a vape pen in person or on TV.

• When you drive or walk by a vape shop.

• After seeing an e-cigarette or vape advertisement in a store, magazine, on the internet, on social media, or on a billboard.

Despite new age regulations, vape usage is still on the rise and is not going away any time soon. Create open lines of communication with your teen and be willing to continue the discussion as to why vaping is dangerous. Your teen will appreciate your honesty and feel better equipped to handle a future situation where they are exposed or offered vaping.

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