Aging & Health: Take Charge

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Mar 17, 2020

Talking about vaping with young people

By Joey Keillor, @joeykeillor



Vaping has grown massively in popularity among Americans of all ages, but particularly in children and young adults. It’s been the most commonly used tobacco product among middle- and high-school kids since 2014, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of kids under 18 who tried vaping jumped by 1.5 million.

The inhaled vapor has fewer harmful ingredients than cigarette smoke, but potentially harmful chemicals can still be found in the vapor. The contents of most vape fluids are unknown, and risks of many chemicals isn’t understood. However, previous research indicates that at least some contain harmful chemicals, including substances known to increase risk of cancer and other diseases.

When talking to grandchildren or younger loved ones about avoiding vaping or tobacco use, consider these strategies:

Let the topic come up naturally

"We need to talk” won’t work. It’s much more effective to use a prompt from real life — such as a sign outside a store advertising the products or a person walking by using them — to start a conversation. Let the conversation continue in bits and pieces over time

Meet them where they are

Most young people are used to communicating via text messages. It can be a nonthreatening way to share information.

Make it personal

Share stories about your generation’s struggles with tobacco, and tell a story about health consequences and trouble quitting by someone you know. Then relate it to him or her: “I don’t want you and your friends to have to go through what we did.”


How have you approached this topic with young people in your life? Let others know about successes and failures at the Lung Health support group.


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