Simple Tips on How to Talk to Your Kids About Smoking and Vaping

Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about these dangerous habits.

Father and son fist bump after talking about the dangers of smoking and vaping.

Keeping your kids healthy is probably high on your priority list. Vaccinations, well-child checkups, and a balanced diet are all part of their overall health and well-being, but another aspect of your child’s health is avoiding harmful habits.

Smoking and vaping are examples of extremely harmful habits. It's important to have open and honest conversations with your child/children to teach them how to steer clear of these substances, as well as educate them as to what might happen if they choose to use them.

Related: Is Vaping Healthier than Smoking?

How to start the conversation

Your child’s age will impact how you start a conversation about smoking or vaping. If you have younger kids, you might talk about people you have seen around your community or people in their lives who use nicotine in various forms.

If you have older kids or teens, they may have seen people vaping at school or when spending time with friends. Starting the conversation with an open-ended question, such as “what do you know or think about vaping” can be a good way to open the lines of communication.

Talking about the risks associated with smoking and vaping

You’re likely concerned about vaping and smoking because of the health hazards that come with these habits. When presenting your concerns, come prepared with clear and concise, evidence-based information and stories with unfavorable outcomes.

Kids are more likely to understand your concerns if you back them up with evidence as opposed to just your opinions and fears.

The latest National Youth Tobacco Survey conducted in 2020 indicated that 3.6 million children in the U.S. are current e-cigarette users. While this marks a slight decline from the numbers reported in 2019, it still follows unprecedented increases in youth vape usage.

Nearly 40% of high schoolers who vape reported using e-cigarettes on at least 20 days of the month, while almost seven-hundred fifty thousand middle-school and high-school students reported vaping every day.

Many kids start vaping because they’re curious about the experience.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that nicotine is a highly addictive drug. It can impact the brain development of adolescents, which continues to develop until the age of 25.

Vaping or smoking can particularly affect the parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory, and attention. It can also increase the risk developing of lung disease and other concerning health problems.

Set clear expectations

After you talk to your children about the risks of vaping and what they should know about this habit, set clear expectations for your family. If you choose to establish consequences for breaking household rules regarding smoking and vaping, be consistent with your response.

Set a positive example by not vaping or using tobacco products yourself and encouraging anyone in your family who does use these products to either cut back, especially in front of your children, or quit.

Help for kids who have already started

If you have children who have already started vaping, you can get help for them. You might talk to your child’s pediatrician or other healthcare provider about smoking and vaping. This will give them a chance to bring it up during their next appointment.

Your child may also want to talk to other trusted adults, such as relatives, church or faith leaders, teachers, or counselors. Support is key to helping young people quit vaping.

Talking to your children about smoking and vaping might feel uncomfortable, but it’s an important topic to bring up regularly. Vaping is a habit that can be hidden. In fact, many people in this age bracket use e-cigarettes regularly.

Your kids need to know that they can come to you for help and support. Keeping the lines of communication open is the best way to encourage a strong relationship.

Related: Screen Time for Children: How Much Is Okay?

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