As our children return to classrooms all around the country, there are certainly important key thoughts we should keep in mind that will help us as parents, teachers, physicians, and adults that care about young lives. All indicators point toward the reality that youth vaping is on the rise. Youth data on e-cigarette use in 2021 has been dismissed by the FDA. It simply did not reflect current use. What we did see was when students returned to the classroom in the fall of 2021, an overwhelming amount of reports from school administrators of youth vaping were received. Sales of disposable vape products have been on a major rise and vape detector sales are increasing dramatically in schools. Every indication is the same for this year. This week, a middle school principal told me that because of security issues, they began doing searches of every student’s bookbag. What they found blew me away. They found a vaping device in over 95% of all bookbags and they returned the devices to the students!
So, what do we do with this knowledge?
First, model behavior. Do you know the #1 predictor of whether a youth will smoke or vape? It is if a parent or close family member does. If you smoke or vape, quit. The Breathing Association can help you.
Second, do your homework, so you understand what these products are and can share the health effects that concern you. In other words, know what you are talking about.
Third, Start early. We know some youth are beginning to use in elementary school. Also, this is not “THE TALK”, this is using situations in which you see vaping. Maybe you see someone vaping in a car next to you and start a conversation. Talk with, not at youth. Ask a question, and then listen.
There will be many other tools we will discuss over time this coming year. Do keep this in mind, if you have a young person in your life that is using a nicotine product, be patient. We’ve never seen a product as addictive as the new disposable e-cigarettes. Relapse is normal, it takes most people many attempts to quit nicotine.