The essential guide for parents: Educating your children about vaping

Teen vaping is on the rise, and schools are searching for solutions, with some taking disciplinary action or installing vape detectors in bathrooms.

Over the years, vaping has emerged as a popular alternative to smoking, especially among adults seeking a less harmful option. In 2022, a study by the International Tobacco Control found that 24% of people aged 16-to-19 years in England reported having vaped in the past 30 days. The prevalence of underage vaping in the UK cannot be ignored, and while vaping offers several benefits for adult smokers, it is crucial for parents to communicate effectively with their children about the complexities and potential risks of vaping.  

Online vape retailer Vape and Go has conducted research into underage vaping in the UK to produce a guide for parents who are looking to educate their children about vaping. This guide offers a balanced perspective, emphasising the importance of keeping vaping products out of the hands of young people, while also highlighting the potential advantages vaping can offer adult smokers. 

What is vaping? 

Vaping involves inhaling vapour produced by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or similar device. These devices heat a liquid, known as e-liquid or vape juice, to a temperature where it becomes a vapour that can be inhaled. For many adults, vaping presents a more controlled and less harmful alternative to smoking.  
Research by Public Health England (PHE) suggests that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes. However, for children, vaping can significantly impact both their physical and mental health. 

Start the conversation early 

It’s crucial to discuss vaping with your children before they encounter it in their social environments. Providing accurate, age-appropriate information early on can help them make informed choices. Explain that while vaping can be beneficial for adults, particularly those transitioning from traditional smoking, it is not suitable for children. 

Promote informed choices 
Encourage your children to think critically, assess the facts, and make informed decisions. Researching the topic of vaping together can help your child understand why adults choose to vape and the potential impact it can have on young people. Use reputable sources such as the NHS or Public Health England websites to explore accurate information. 

Explain the potential risks 

While vaping is widely considered less harmful than smoking, it’s important to communicate the potential risks vaping poses to children and young adults: 

Vulnerable respiratory systems: Inhaling vapour from e-cigarettes exposes young lungs to potentially harmful chemicals. Children’s and teenagers’ respiratory systems are still developing, making them more susceptible to damage. 

Long-term health implications: Excessive vaping at a young age can cause inflammation and irritation in the airways, potentially leading to symptoms like wheezing or chronic coughing. Over time, this exposure can impair lung function and increase the risk of developing long-term respiratory conditions such as bronchitis. 

Impaired immune responses: Children and adolescents who vape may also develop weakened immune responses, making it harder for their bodies to fight off common infections like colds and flu. 

Maintain a balanced perspective 

When educating your children about vaping, it’s important to be honest and transparent. Explain why adults choose to vape and how, in many cases, it can be a beneficial alternative to smoking: 

Lower risk compared to smoking: Compared to smoking, vaping presents a significantly lower risk of harm. Public Health England supports vaping as a safer alternative to smoking. 

Regulated nicotine intake: Vaping allows users to regulate their nicotine intake, helping them manage cravings effectively and gradually reduce their dependency on nicotine. 

Support for quitting smoking: Vaping is a proven way to support people who are looking to quit smoking and can be an effective stepping-stone for those aiming to give up nicotine altogether. 

What to do if you discover that your child is vaping 

If you discover that your child is vaping, it’s important to handle the situation with sensitivity and understanding. Show empathy and avoid harsh criticism to help them feel safe and supported, making it easier for them to be open and honest about their experiences: 

Open and calm dialogue: Begin by engaging in a calm and open conversation. Listen closely to their reasons without jumping to conclusions or passing judgement. 

Support and alternatives: Once you understand their motivations, provide supportive guidance on healthier alternatives. Discuss practical strategies to address the underlying reasons for their vaping, such as managing stress or peer pressure. 

Seek professional help: If your child appears to be struggling with vaping or nicotine addiction, seek professional guidance. Healthcare professionals can offer specialised support and resources to help your child make healthier choices. 

Salman Essap, Founder and CEO of Vape and Go commented on the issue:  

“Vaping’s rising prevalence among youth cannot be ignored. Data from the UK and globally indicates a troubling increase in vaping among teenagers. The 2022 NHS Digital survey reported that 9% of 11-15-year-olds in England were using e-cigarettes. This trend is concerning, especially given the potential risks that vaping poses to children.  

“As such, it’s important to be vigilant as a parent and educate your child early so they can make informed, healthy choices and navigate any potential temptation to partake in vaping.” 

Study by Vape and Go