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How to Identify if Your Child is Vaping and What You Can Do About It

As you well know, children experience so many physical and psychological changes in their teen years, all while having to combat the pressures and challenges of social and academic commitments. These circumstances and experiences often cause teens to have mood swings, adopt abnormal behaviors, and sometimes fuel rebellious tendencies. Vaping and smoking, in addition to caffeine, are easily accessible substances that teenagers often experiment with.

Despite the fact that both kids and adults are well aware of the dangers and risks inherent to smoking, vaping devices often elude the stigma associated with cigarettes. Furthermore, electronic cigarettes and vape pens are often marketed as futuristic, fashionable, and healthy alternatives to cigarettes, which can lead some to believe that they are somehow “safe” when they are anything but.

While many parents consider themselves vigilant of their children’s behaviors, it is extremely difficult to know what they are doing at all times. Unlike smoking, vaping devices do not leave a lingering scent or smoke cloud, are difficult to distinguish from other technology, and are much easier to hide. Below are some tips on how to identify if your child is smoking or vaping and what you can do about it. 

Know the Warning Signs
Although cigarette use comes with a strong smell, discarded filters, and require lighters or matches, vaping devices are much more discrete. However, there are still some key indicators that your child is vaping. First, if your child has friends that vape or associates with upper classmen, there is a chance that they may become users themselves. In addition, people who vape often suffer from frequent nosebleeds, “smokers cough”, and mouth sores. Some common habits of teenagers who vape are fidgeting, frequent visits to their room or outside, and a significant increase in thirst.

To a lesser extent, people who vape may reduce or altogether discontinue their caffeine consumption. This is due to a heightened sensitivity to caffeine caused by the regular use of e-cigarettes, which often contain a high concentration of the stimulant nicotine. Moreover, unfamiliar batteries, chargers, or discarded plastic containers found in your home may also indicate that your child possesses a vaping device.

Know What E-Cigarettes Look Like and the Health Risks They Carry
Being a parent entails not only knowing what is best for your children, but also what is harmful to them. Vaping devices come in all shapes and sizes, but there are some common attributes that you may be able to identify. Pen or USB drive shaped vaping devices have charging ports and lack the functionalities of a pen or USB drive, and so parents should pay attention if their child is protective or secretive with such items. Parents should also take the time to research vaping devices to familiarize themselves with what they look like and how they work. Additionally, parents should be fully aware of the health risks associated with vaping.

While the research into the adverse health effects of nicotine is well established, research about vaping is still ongoing, though the findings thus far are quite troubling. According to an article published by the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, e-cigarettes contain acrolein, a herbicide used to kill weeds, and research shows that it can cause acute lung injury, COPD, and may also cause asthma and lung cancer. But the dangers are not limited to the chemicals in the vapor, but also the devices themselves. Vaping devices have been known to explode without warning, leading to life-altering burns, injuries, or even death. Although vaping is often considered a safe alternative to smoking, e-cigarettes carry inumerable health risks, many of which we are only beginning to fully understand.

Know How to Talk to Your Child About Vaping
Without a doubt, talking with your child about the harmful effects of vaping is the most effective prevention measure at a parent’s disposal, but it can be a double-edged sword when done incorrectly. Simply stating the health risks of vaping, or threatening severe punishments for using e-cigarettes, may not be the best way to convince a child not to use these devices. Recognize that your child may experience frequent exposure to vaping through advertisements or entertainment, and be prepared to explain how tobacco companies market their products as “cool” or “trendy” in order to influence young people. It is also important to give the child the opportunity to share their opinion or thoughts about vaping and to actively listen to them. Asking about friends or peers who vape, how vaping is perceived by kids at school, and what they have been told about e-cigarettes shows that you genuinely care about what they have to say. A child who is fearful of how their parents will react to unfortunate revelations may choose to hide the truth, and so it is important to be compassionate and understanding in order to maintain open communication.

If you require additional support or would like to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact our Counsellor by email at

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