What You Need to Know if Your Teenager Vapes

Even though e-cigarettes have been available for more than a decade, vaping rates have gone through the roof in recent years, as has the number of vape shops on the high street.

According to a recent study, while a large majority of 11 to 17-year-olds have never tried or are unaware of e-cigarettes, the popularity of vaping is rising at a steady rate year on year.

Disposable vapes are becoming particularly popular, with brands such as Elf Bar and Geek Bar readily available at vape shops, corner shops, off-licenses, supermarkets, and other stores, and, unlike cigarettes, the restrictions to purchase them can sometimes be far less strict.

If you are concerned that your teenager might be vaping, and are unsure of the risks or how to talk to them about it, then read on.

Why is Vaping So Attractive to Teens?

Unlike cigarettes, vaping devices are available in a wide range of different sweet and fruity flavours, which makes them particularly appealing to teens.

But vapes are far more than just harmless water vapour with tasty flavours. When e-cigarettes first came out there was very little known about health risks, and a lot of people saw them as a healthier alternative to smoking, however the long-term effects are still unknown.

This sense of the unknown could be one of the reasons vaping among teens is so attractive.

Disposable and non-disposable vape pens are marketed to look attractive to teens. They come in cool-looking packaging, have a high-tech look, come in bright colours, which fuels their popularity.

Another reason vaping is so popular among teenagers is, unlike cigarettes, they don’t have the same lingering smell as cigarettes. This makes it much easier for teens to vape in secret, as there aren’t any telltale cigarette smells to arouse suspicion. Vape pens are also easy to stash away and hide from parents’ and teachers’ prying eyes, which adds to their allure.

While teens are lured by the variety of fun flavours, many other reasons attributed to the popularity of vaping comes from a social angle. Their friends might vape and it evokes curiosity, they want to fit in with the crowd, they’ve seen vaping tricks on social media and want to take part in the trend, and they don’t want to feel left out.

How to Talk to Your Teen About Vaping

Just because many other teenagers are vaping, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a positive influence on what your teen does.

If you’re concerned that your teenager is using a vape pen or e-cigarette, start with a general non-confrontational conversation. You could ask them if any of their friends vape, and what their thoughts are on it.

One of the main issues is that many children choose to try vaping because they see other children or their friends doing it and they want to feel included.

With this in mind, initiate a general chat about the health facts of vaping. You can teach them about the addictive nature of nicotine and how it will become much harder to stop once they start.

If you’re worried that your teen could be addicted to nicotine, try not to panic. Talk to them about what they can do to break the addiction, and seek advice from a licensed therapist or your GP.

Setting Rules and Boundaries

Is your teen feeling pressured to start vaping?

Saying “no” might seem easy, but, of course, when it comes to teens, nothing is ever simple. By your teenager saying no to peer pressure, it can come with layers of social consequences. The idea of going against the crowd might make your teenager worry that they could lose friends or be seen as uncool.

It’s crucial that you listen, validate, and educate your teen and leave the conversation open for further chats. Letting them know you are there for them and they can talk to you - even about the controversial stuff - without fear of judgement can make them feel more willing to share with you. Teens are working through a process of setting themselves apart as individuals, so it’s important to empower your teenager to make healthy choices while understanding what they have to deal with socially.

Another option is to have a conversation with your child’s teacher or headteacher about your concerns. They could lead a discussion on vaping and its dangers at school, helping to drive the message deeper.

If you are concerned about your teenager and need further advice, reach out to your GP or use our Speak to an Expert service for additional support and information.

External Resources

University College London Study on E-Cigarettes

Report by Action on Smoking and Health About the Use of Vapes Among Young People