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Vaping: The Big Questions
Is vaping without nicotine safe?
No, it’s not. First, in a recent study, 60% of non-nicotine vaping pods were found to contain nicotine. This is not a well-regulated industry, so you can’t know exactly what you’re inhaling. Second, the non-nicotine ingredients include volatile organic compounds (VOC), known carcinogens, and toxins associated with respiratory disease and heart disease. Some even contain insecticides and formaldehyde. Basically, inhaling chemicals can never be deemed safe.
How do I know if my teen is vaping?
This can be tough. The tools used are discreet and easy to hide – they may look like a pen or a USB flash drive. Plus, vaping can be odourless, though you may smell something sweet like fruit or bubblegum. A teen could vape in their room without a parent detecting it. Mainly, you would look for signs of nicotine addiction: irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, restlessness and depressed mood. Also, frequently leaving a family gathering to be alone could be a sign.
What should I say if I suspect my teen is vaping?
Before you say anything, get the facts. Be sure you understand the health risks, whether nicotine is involved or not. If you use tobacco or vaping products yourself, be honest with your teen about the risks, your regrets, the difficulties of addiction, and the health consequences. You may also want to share the difference between how you felt when you started (excited, energized, rebellious) and how you feel now.
Aim to have an ongoing, open dialogue rather than a formal meeting or delivering a lecture. Have several conversations whenever an opening arises, such as when you see someone vaping. Ask questions about what your teen knows. Be curious and listen closely. If they admit to vaping, stay calm and focus on the activity, not their personality. Ask if they think they are addicted. Let them know there are ways to break free. If you can tell they have bad information, give them some reading materials.
Keep the conversation going. Let it naturally pick up and drop over time. Avoid heated arguments or passing judgment. Encourage your teen to talk to any trusted adults, such as a teacher, guidance counsellor, coach or relative. You can also share your concerns with an adult your teen respects and ask for their help. Most of all, let your teen know that you love them and want them to be healthy. Research tells us that, despite how it sometimes looks, children really do listen to their parents and internalize their messaging.