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Teen Vaping: Can my Teenager Vape?

by Theo Wilson

What Parents Should Know About Underage Vaping

Teen vaping is a worrying prospect, and can be cause for concern amongst both parents and the vaping industry. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; at myCigara, we view vaping as a tool to quit smoking, a means to an end. It shouldn’t really be an activity unto itself and in cases where it is, that should still only be as a decision made by an adult seeking a long-term replacement for a long-term smoking habit. In short, non-smokers should not take up vaping.

Why Do Teens Vape?

As the adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” As important as it may be to help teens stop vaping once they’ve started, even more important is keeping them from starting in the first place. To do that, it’s worth thinking about why teens start vaping.

A 2021 report from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), surveyed use of e-cigarettes amongst young people in the UK. Perhaps unsurprisingly, amongst 11-18 year olds who had never smoked, the main reasons given for vaping were:

●“just to give it a try” (68.9%)

●“other people use them so I join in” (11%)

●“I like the flavours” (4.8%)

The first two reasons are probably interlinked. Afterall, teens are susceptible to peer pressure, and if their peers are vaping, they’re more likely to “just try it.” This is ramped up by not wanting to feel left out (FOMO), compounded by the subtle background hum of constant exposure (i.e., through social media and advertising) and the normal teenage allure of engaging with a slightly illicit thrill.

There are probably further justifications that crop up in the teenage brain, such as: “I’m only trying it a couple of times, I won’t get addicted” or “it’s only harmful if you do it for a long time” or even “at least I’m not smoking, which is worse.” While there’s some truth to the latter points there, the issue of addiction is of key concern.As mentioned, nicotine exposure can negatively affect cognitive functions in teens.

Most importantly, because the adolescent brain has not finished developing, it’s far more susceptible to addiction than the brain of an adult. It’s hard to understate just how addictive nicotine is —as many adults surely know —and, in conjunction with the adolescent brain, can create an addiction that’s much harder to break.

Risks of Teen Vaping

While vaping is admittedly a healthier alternative to smoking, consuming nicotine nevertheless carries some risk, specifically in the case of teenagers.

Some vape e-liquids on the market contain nicotine, as do many disposable vape kits. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the mid-20s.

Connections between brain cells —synapses —are built whenever a person learns a new skill, or creates a new memory. This process, which occurs more frequently in the adolescent brain than in a fully-developed adult brain, can be affected by nicotine consumption.

What this essentially means is that using nicotine during adolescence can have a negative effect on the parts of the brain responsible for attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.

Parents: Should I Let My Teenager Vape?

The short answer: no. For one thing, the legal vaping age in the UK is 18.

However, if you discover that your teen has been vaping, it’s best to try and have an open conversation with them about why they’ve been doing it, and about why stopping would be a good idea.

It may also be easier to have this conversation gradually, rather than sitting them down for a “big talk” —either way, keeping an open, non-judging dialogue is important. Remain patient and willing to listen.

This isn’t necessarily going to be the easiest conversation, but help is out there. You could ask your GP for advice prior to this conversation, or even go with your teen to discuss this with your GP together.

Talking to Your Teen About Vaping

As many parents of teenagers have probably experienced, telling your teenager that they can’t or shouldn’t do something, usually doesn’t work.

However, what does work is helping them realise there’s no good reason for doing that thing. Your teen may ask you why you don’t want them to vape. Try explaining to them the risks of nicotine when it comes to the still-developing adolescent brain: affected cognitive function and a higher susceptibility to addiction (not only to nicotine, but in general).

If they point out that vaping is meant to be less dangerous than smoking, gently remind them that this doesn’t negate the risks associated with nicotine. If you yourself are a former smoker, they may ask why it was okay for you to use tobacco, but not them. You could say that if you could do it all over again, you never would have started smoking. Explain how difficult it is to quit smoking, and let them know that you don’t want them to have to go through that.

This last point also touches on a crucial theme for this conversation. You’re not telling this to scold or scare them; you have their best interests at heart; their health and wellbeing is your primary concern, and you simply want them to have the facts.

ASH also has a range of fact sheets available that provide useful information for talking to your teen about vaping.

What is our responsibility as a Leading Vape Shop Retailer?

At myCigara, we exist to make the UK smoke-free. Since we first started in 2012, we have always focused on promoting vaping products as a tool to help existing smokers quit. Age verification, and making sure our products don’t end up in the hands of minors, has been embedded in our ethos from the outset.

Even prior to the vaping industry becoming fully regulated, we were one of the first businesses to use Challenge 25.Today, with the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in place, the entire vaping industry is actively ensuring that all vaping products are manufactured and sold according to strict regulations.

As part of this, there has been an industry-wide push toward sharing content specifically meant to deter teenagers from vaping.

This is in keeping with our mission from day one; we offer up vaping as a way of quitting smoking, and nothing more.

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