Talking to Your Teens About the Dangers of E-Cigarettes

Vaping devices like e-cigarettes have quickly risen in popularity, particularly among young people. While teens may see vaping as a harmless, fun social experience, there are dangers to using e-cigarettes. With vaping products available in dessert, candy, and fruit flavors, it seems like a great way for kids to be ‘cool’ these days. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, e-cigarette use among teens has now become a public health concern since tobacco use during the teen years can lead to a lifetime nicotine addiction.

It’s important for parents to take action to protect the health of their teens, both now and in the future. Here’s a helpful guide that can help you prepare yourself to discuss the dangers of e-cigarette use with your teen.

Before You Have the Talk

Having this type of talk with your teen isn’t easy, so the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re armed with the facts on e-cigarettes yourself. Make sure you have credible information to present to them, which can be found at websites like or the Center for Disease Control website.

It’s also important to remember that you want to have a conversation with your teen – this isn’t the time for a lecture. Setting a positive example for your teen is also essential. Don’t use tobacco products, and if you do, it’s the perfect time to quit.

Starting the Conversation

For the best results, you’ll want to have a natural conversation with your teen. Start out with the phrase, “We need to talk,” and your teen will instantly have their guard up. Wait for the right moment, such as when you pass an e-cigarette shop, you see an ad for e-cigarettes, or you see someone using one.

While it’s important to talk to your teen yourself, you may also want to ask others for support. Coaches, counselors, relatives, teachers, and healthcare providers can all help reinforce the message you want to get out to your teen.

Facts About E-cigarette Use Among Teens

What exactly are the dangers of e-cigarette use for teens? Here’s a closer look at some of the facts that you can use when you talk to your teen.

  • E-Cigs Aren’t Risk-Free – While teens often look at vaping as less harmful than having a cigarette, it’s important to communicate that e-cigs are not risk-free. In fact, there’s plenty of research that suggests they can have negative consequences, including:
    • Damage to the lungs, heart, or brain
    • Harmful effects on lung and brain development in teens
    • May increase the risk of cancer
  • Nicotine is Highly Addictive – E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which we already know is highly addictive, and using e-cigs now increases the risk of using other nicotine products and even other drugs later in life.
  • Young People are Vulnerable – Science has shown that young people are vulnerable to using e-cigs because nicotine can disrupt brain development in teens, increasing the risk of mental health problems in the future.
  • Many E-Cigs Contain Diacetyl – Research has found that most e-liquids used in e-cigarettes include a flavoring chemical known as diacetyl. This chemical has been linked to a variety of respiratory problems, including:
    • Closure of the airways
    • Asthma
    • Wheezing and coughing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Popcorn lung
    • Lung irritation

How to Keep the Conversation Going

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to cover everything about the dangers of e-cigarettes in a single conversation, so it’s important to keep the conversation going with your teen. If your teen admits that they’ve tried e-cigs with their friends, avoid jumping on their case and work to keep the lines of communication open.

Many parents also find that texting can be a great way to keep the discussion going since most teens respond well to texts. You can easily share websites with your teen that have important information on e-cigs and their dangers. Texting or instant messaging makes it easy to share articles you come across on the topic as well.

Reminding your teen about the dangers and repeating some of the health risks via text can also prove helpful. Even if your teen isn’t using e-cigarettes now, there’s a good chance they’ll have the opportunity to try it, so keeping the dangers fresh in their mind is crucial.