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Protect our Kids—Have the Conversation

Sarah Cosgrove

May/June 2022

It is never too early to start the conversation about e-cigarettes with your kids.

It is never too early to start the conversation about e cigarettes with your kids. Saying” just say no” to e-cigarettes, is not enough. Talk with them about dangers of nicotine, tobacco and e-cigarettes as early as possible. Don’t wait until they become teens. For many kids, e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking, those who vape are four times as likely to begin smoking cigarettes.

Adults need to set a positive example-and keep the conversation going. This is not a one time and done conversation. Prepare yourself to be ready to answer “Why should I not use these products, Why is nicotine harmful?

Most vape devices release a number of potentially toxic substances, fine particles; metals, other toxins and nicotine. Explain that nicotine use in youth is highly addictive. Their brains are going through massive changes and are more sensitive to the effects of Nicotine. Nicotine rewires the brain, making it easier to get hooked on other drugs and problems with concentration, learning and impulse control. When one stops vaping, they experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms which can be painful and sickening.

Be patient and ready to listen. Look for opportunities to discuss vaping with your child. They may present themselves as; letters from the school about vaping policies, vaping on TV, advertisements, someone vaping or passing a vape shop. Be ready to listen rather than give a lecture. Ask them “What do you think about vaping?” Keep your eyes open for unfamiliar vape lingo in text messages kids often brag about their vaping on social media. Check their Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Different substances can be vaped, the most common are flavored nicotine e-liquids, which come in small bottles, cartridges or pre filled pods. Nicotine e-liquids have varying levels of nicotine. Juul pods, the most popular device, contain as much nicotine as twenty cigarettes. Marijuana can also be vaped. In some cases kids might think they’re trying an e-cigarette, not knowing it has marijuana in it, given there is no tell-tale odor. You may also find devices that look like flash drives, e-juice bottles, pods or packaging.

Look for changes in behavior and appearance; vaping can cause bloodshot eyes, dry mouth, thirst, as well as changes in behavior and mood. Chemicals used in e-juices have the effect of drying out the mouth and nasal passages. As a result, kids drink more liquids, urinate more or experience nose bleeds.

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