As parents, there are many difficult discussions we need to have with our children. We want them to be prepared for whatever challenges or experiences they might be exposed to. And, in some cases, we can use knowledge from our younger years to get that conversation started. Discussing things like premarital sex, smoking, and drugs are probably conversations we had with our parents too. But, what about new things that we have no experience with like vaping?

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol—often called a vapor which is where vape comes from. This vapor is produced by an e-cigarette or electronic cigarette or similar device. It’s not only e-cigarettes that can be used—there are also vape pens and personal vaporizers called MODS.

The vapor or aerosol in the vape pen usually contains propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, flavorings, and additives. Some children mistakenly believe that vape pens contain only water and flavoring. In most cases, this is not true. In many ways, vaping is similar to cigarette smoking because it contains nicotine.

Vaping is only legal for adults, however, like cigarettes younger kids emulate their peers and often begin vaping at a much younger age despite the current laws. It’s important that they make an informed decision—and it’s our job as parents to share the information they’ll need to make that choice. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • The vaping industry is similar to the tobacco industry in that they provide a product containing nicotine that is addictive. Discuss with your child what addiction means and how it can impact their lives as they get older.
  • Teens should understand the role that marketing plays in portraying vaping as trendy and acceptable. Advertisements often portray attractive, well-liked people using vaping products much the same way the cigarette or alcohol industry does.
  • Be sure that they understand that the reason that companies target younger adults with their ads is that they often get a lifelong consumer when someone begins using a vaping product. The younger you start, the longer you will be using their products.
  • Make sure that they understand the current health risks associated with vaping. People who have a history of vaping have reported a cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain. You can read more here.

As tempting as it is to simply forbid your teen to use vaping products, that might not be effective. Try to avoid being judgmental or overbearing. Be open to listening to what they have to say and what they believe is true. Explain that your concern is for their health given the chemicals and nicotine in vaping products. And, be sure they understand the possibility of addiction. Don’t put off this important discussion because you think your child is too young. It’s better to discuss it before they are exposed to it.