Teens And E- Cigarettes – What Parents Need To Know
If you have a teenager in the house you have a lot of things to worry about. You want her to be successful in school, to have a lot of friends and to be happy. Whether you realize it or not, you also need to worry about substance abuse. You might think that your child is too well adjusted to ever try smoking, drinking, or using drugs, but you might be wrong. No teen is immune from peer pressure. Among the many worries we have as parents today, there’s a new one: e-cigarettes.
What Are E-Cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are electronic devices that deliver nicotine in water vapor instead of in cigarette smoke. Inside each device is a battery that warms up a vial of nicotine dissolved in water. The user inhales nicotine and exhales water vapor. Supporters of e-cigarettes say that the devices can be used to help smokers quit. It gives a smoker a safer alternative to use in order to be weaned from nicotine. Smoking an e-cigarette is called vaping.
Are E- Cigarettes Harmful?
One of the main problems with e-cigarettes is that they are new and not fully tested. While proponents say that they are safe and that even the second-hand vapor is safe, we really don’t know for sure. What we definitely know is that an e-cigarette delivers hits of nicotine, a mind-altering, highly addictive substance. They may be free of all the toxins in cigarette smoke, but if your teen vapes she will become addicted to nicotine. We also know that nicotine can cause cognitive defects in young brains that are long lasting.
Another concern is the possibility of e-cigarettes acting as gateway drugs. Research has shown that people who abuse drugs or are addicted follow a pattern. They start with cigarettes or alcohol, and then move onto illegal and harder substances. Teens using e-cigarettes because vaping seems cool and largely safe put themselves at risk for future substance abuse.
Are Teens Using E- Cigarettes?
It may seem unlikely that teens would be interested in a device designed to help smokers quit, but the statistics say otherwise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a quarter of a million young people used e-cigarettes in 2013. This number represents only the teens who had never smoked a real cigarette before. This means that e-cigarettes are responsible for getting a huge number of teens hooked on nicotine who may never have tried smoking otherwise.
How Can I Protect My Teen From E- Cigarettes?
The best way that you can protect your teens from the potential dangers of e-cigarettes is to talk to them. You can’t always be watching and guiding them, but they do value your opinions. You have the potential to influence their choices, even when you aren’t by their side. Let them know that you don’t want them to vape or use real cigarettes.
By talking to your teens about e-cigarettes you also give them the power of information. Many teens start using these devices with the false assumption that they are perfectly safe. They may be safer than cigarettes, but they are not safe and there are many risks involved. Educate your teens and help them to be aware of the risks and you will empower them to make better decisions. E-cigarettes are likely here to stay, and they are useful tools for smokers, but they pose risks to our young people. By spreading awareness we can all do our part to protect them.
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