You've dropped your daughter off at her friend's house and while cleaning the car, you find what looks like a USB drive on the passenger seat. It's a disposable vape.
You've seen the news. Vapes or e-cigarettes are harmful yet increasingly popular with people her age.
You call to ask if the vape's hers. It is and she's been vaping occasionally for a few weeks. You say you'll talk about it later.
But what will you actually say?
It's important to be across accurate and up-to-date information about vaping. Evidence-based resources for parents and carers in Australia include:
A common theme across such resources for parents is to bring home the reality of vaping in terms of how many teens are actually doing it, what current health evidence shows, and why it's more than just media coverage of incidents at schools.
In a nutshell, vapes are easy to access, teen vaping is common and it's becoming normalised in this age group.
Our own unpublished research with young people aged 16-26, provides some insights. We've heard vaping called a "clean alternative" to smoking (it's not), and a "social activity" at school or parties. One young participant has seen others "nic sick", or nauseous from vaped nicotine.
There's mounting evidence pointing to physical health harms and unknown mental health risks from vaping. There's no reason for a teen to be vaping, even if adults might take this approach in quitting smoking. Many vapes contain nicotine, whatever the label says, with the potential for dependence or addiction.
It might be tempting to deliver a lecture on the dangers of vaping. But conversations are more likely to be effective if they are clear, open, and constructive, with thought about how to focus on discussing health harms.
So use some of these tips, based on ones from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation:
But what if it's gone beyond trying vaping, and your teen feels they have a dependency or addiction?
Services such as Quitline, which traditionally provide counselling for people wanting to stop smoking, are increasingly receiving calls from teens struggling with vaping-related nicotine dependence.
Parents can also call Quitline (phone: 13 78 48) to plan the conversation with a teenager about vaping. They can also contact a GP to help their teen treat nicotine dependence and related effects.
This article first appeared on The Conversation and is republished under Creative Commons licence.
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