How do you know if your teen is vaping?
The teen vaping epidemic continues to spread across America, with federal data showing that one in four high school students now use e-cigarettes. This has left parents wondering whether their children have fallen victim to the increasingly popular trend.
According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual National Youth Tobacco Survey, 27.5% of high school students reported using an e-cigarette in the 30 days prior to being polled. This number represents a 20.8% jump from 2018.
Teen vaping risk factors
Teenagers are particularly vulnerable when it comes to e-cigarettes, with the fun and fruity flavors marketed by JUUL and other manufacturers leading many to believe that vaping is harmless. In reality, e-cigarettes contain substantial amounts of nicotine.
While nicotine carries risks for people of all ages, health experts have stated that people under the age of 25 are most at risk, as the substance can harm the still-developing brain. Teens are also more likely than any other age group to become addicted to nicotine. In addition, e-cigarette vapor contains a plethora of harmful substances, including benzene – a carcinogen linked to leukemia.
When you add it all up, it’s easy to see that parents are facing an extremely uphill battle when it comes to teen vaping. But in a world where children are notoriously averse to being open with their parents, how can you know if your teen is using e-cigarettes?
Physical vaping indicators
E-cigarettes are extremely simple to conceal, which means teens often “hide in plain sight” while vaping. Many high schoolers have even reported vaping in the classroom, right under the noses of their unsuspecting teachers.
As a parent, it is important to educate yourself on e-cigarettes and their pods/cartridges so you can identify them when you see them. You should also be aware of any unusually sweet smells, as you could be smelling scented e-cigarette vapor.
Meanwhile, your teen may exhibit the following physical side effects of vaping:
- Increased thirst – Vaping is hydroscopic, which means it dries out the mouth, throat, and skin. This can cause the body to crave hydration, resulting in teens consuming more liquids than usual and urinating more frequently.
- Seeking flavor – The dry mouth caused by vaping can also make food seem less flavorful. If your teen is seasoning their food more than usual or developing a palate for spicy food, this could be an indicator of vaping.
- Nosebleeds – E-cigarettes cause the nasal passageways to become dry, often resulting in nosebleeds and/or red, cracked skin around the nose.
- Skin problems – Nicotine ages the skin and slows the healing of skin wounds. This can cause your teen to develop acne, or cause existing blemishes to hang around longer.
- Coughing, throat-clearing, or mouth sores – Vaping has been found to cause a “smoker’s cough” in some users, as well as mouth wounds that won’t heal.
- Pneumonia – Nanoparticles present in e-cigarette vapor can cause inflammation in the lungs, which can ultimately lead to bacterial infections and cause pneumonia.
Emotional & behavioral vaping indicators
Vaping can also affect your teen’s attitude and emotions. Here are some behavioral indicators to look out for:
- Irritability – Your teen may exhibit signs of irritability if they go long periods between vaping. This is a well-known nicotine withdrawal symptom.
- Restlessness – Nicotine can affect sleep patterns and create a sense of restlessness. You may notice your teen is staying up later, sleeping in later, or having trouble sleeping.
- Depression & anxiety – Nicotine can make feelings of anxiety and depression worse in teens, as it affects the part of the brain that controls mood.
- Lack of focus – E-cigarette cravings often make it difficult for users to focus on tasks, and can sometimes cause noticeable fidgeting.
Talk to your teen about vaping
Having an open and honest conversation about vaping is the best way to educate your teen about the risks associated with the habit. Although conversations about teen issues are rarely easy, here are some tips to make the talk more comfortable for everyone involved:
- Find the right moment to talk – Knocking on your teen’s bedroom door and holding a formal meeting will most likely feel like an ambush. Instead, take advantage of moments to discuss vaping in a more informal setting, such as casually bringing up the topic when you drive by a vape shop or see a stranger vaping.
- Allow for open dialogue – Your teen doesn’t want to be preached at, so the conversation needs to be a two-way street. Let your teen talk, and truly listen to what they have to say on the topic of vaping.
- Provide a safe space – It’s extremely important to allow your teen to be honest with you. If they choose to confide in you about their vaping habit, don’t react harshly. Punishing them for their honesty will make them regret opening up to you.
- Share important information – Regardless of whether or not your teen has vaped before, it’s important to let them know about the harmful effects of e-cigarettes. The US Office of the Surgeon General has provided a free, downloadable tip sheet with important talking points.
- Provide other sources of support – Be aware that teens often find it easier to speak with adults who are not their parents. If this is the case, encourage your teen to talk about vaping with other trusted adults such as teachers, coaches, mentors, and family friends.
- Keep the lines of communication open – Remember that one conversation isn’t enough when it comes to vaping or other teen issues. Bring up the topic periodically.
- Set a positive example – Show your teen what living nicotine free looks like. If you currently use nicotine, make a conscious effort to stop, and explain to your teen why quitting is important.
What to do if your teen is addicted to vaping
If your teen is addicted to vaping, your support is vital. Here are some important things to do throughout the quitting process:
- Sit down together – Make a list of reasons why your teen should give up e-cigarettes. Hang this in a visible place where it can serve as a constant reminder to stay committed when temptation strikes.
- Set a quit date – Expecting your teen to quit cold turkey isn’t practical, so set a quit date in the near future. Make a plan for your teen to slowly reduce their e-cigarette usage in the days and weeks leading up to that date.
- Reduce temptation – Teens are easily influenced by the actions of their peers, so do your best to limit their interactions with those who may pressure them to vape.
- Prepare for cravings – Your teen will likely experience intense cravings for e-cigarettes as they try to quit. Be there to support them and encourage them to remain strong. Have a snack or piece of gum on hand to keep their mouth busy in those moments.
- Consider stop-smoking products – Products such as nicotine gum and patches were designed for adults, so they may or may not be right for your child. Talk to a doctor before giving any of these products to your teen.
- Seek outside support – Real-life and web-based support groups are great resources for your teen. It’s important for them to know they aren’t alone, and quitting alongside a peer can make the journey easier.
If your teen is addicted to JUUL, you may have a claim against the manufacturer of JUUL. Call our office today for a free consultation at 803-LAW-FIRM or 803-529-3476.
Vaping and JUUL related web pages on our site: