Keeping your teens tobacco free is going to be harder moving forward thanks to e-cigarettes. Early research is showing there are some dangerous chemicals in e-cigarettes but just not as many as with traditional tobacco. As result, attitudes toward smoking with an e-cigarette are softening. However, e-cigarettes also use chemicals not found in traditional cigarettes and the effects of those chemicals is not fully known. But, the message that nicotine is a dangerously addictive drug is not getting through to anyone.
Nicotine Is Still A Drug
Regardless of the alleged safety of e-cigarettes, teenagers do not understand nicotine is still a highly addictive drug. Not only is nicotine a drug but some reports indicate nicotine is harder to give up than heroin. One way nicotine has a stronger pull than heroin is the nicotine high actually lasts just a few seconds. Ten seconds after nicotine is inhaled it reaches its peak effect. With such a short high, nicotine convinces teenagers rather quickly they need more. As parents the message we need to be delivering to our teens is how dangerously addictive nicotine actually is.
A Teaching Moment
One approach you could take to help your teenagers understand the real effects of e-cigarettes is to teach them to think and research critically. Teach your teenagers how the e-cigarette advertising hype is meant to mislead consumers. Right now e-cig manufacturers and distributors are able to tell our teens they are safe because they have not been proven unsafe. The advertising is not fully lying but it also is not telling a full truth either. However, studies in France and by the FDA have shown the vapor does contain chemicals which cause cancer. Today’s teens have access to more information than we did at their age. The internet has given them an incredible power to learn. However, when it comes to e-cigarettes they are not looking past slick advertising campaigns designed to convince them e-cigarettes are 100-percent safe when clearly they are not.
Ahead Of The Curve
The strategy of keeping teaching your teens to follow the research about the chemicals contained in e-cigarette vapor will help them stay ahead of their peers worldwide. In the UK, The Royal Society for Public Health, their version of the FDA, has split the message of the dangers of smoking tobacco and vaping. Unfortunately their public health campaign includes the message that e-cigarettes do not carry the same risk as traditional tobacco products. While that is partially true, they are missing the research that shows the vapor produced by e-cigarettes does contain cancer causing chemicals and the fact that nicotine is addictive. Their softer attitude to e-cigarettes will put a whole new generation in danger of nicotine addiction. We cannot afford to let these softer attitudes and misinformation help our teens become addicted to nicotine.
Another way you can use the softer attitudes about e-cigarettes to your advantage to keep your teenagers away from nicotine is by helping them learn about the inefficient e-cigarette manufacturing methods. Studies have proven consistent labeling errors, for example. Some of the tested liquids contained more or less than labeled but some contained no nicotine at all. As long as these products remain unregulated, buyers will not know the level of nicotine they are actually getting. Additionally, most of the nicotine infused liquid is also manufactured in China which is notorious for selling subpar products. While most vape shops sell e-liquid in non-lethal doses, lethal doses of nicotine can be found online unfortunately. The stronger e-liquid is so potent that a single tablespoon is enough to kill an adult.
Flip The Script
If ‘everyone’ is saying vaping is a safer alternative to smoking, agree. E-cigarettes do have fewer chemicals and any internet search your teen does will show them as much. If you keep harping on the dangers of e-cigarettes, you might lose your teen’s attention. As you keep your focus on the dangers of nicotine addiction, you will keep your teenagers safe. You might also keep your teen from abusing other drugs. E-cigarettes can be used to vape marijuana. Liquid THC, the active component in marijuana, produces none of its signature odor when used in an e-cigarette.
E-cigarette use is dangerous and your teens need to know the real reasons why they should avoid using them. Obviously the ‘no smoking’ message isn’t getting through to all teenagers. Now that e-cigarettes are the next coolest thing more teens are picking up nicotine addiction along the way. In that case, the message needs to change. Highlighting the dangers of nicotine use is the best way to keep teens from using e-cigarettes in the first place.