Vaping is Popular with Teens in West Michigan. Why it’s Dangerous and How to Talk to Your Kids

Too Cool For Juul?

Although we generally like to keep things bright and fun at grkids, we also like to make sure our fellow parents are informed about things that could be harmful to our kids. Enter VAPING.

Vaping is the new smoking… except in many ways, it’s much much worse.

Have you heard of it?

I had heard of it, but knew very little. I recently attended a town hall meeting in our local school district with a panel of experts and learned a lot.

Juul e-cigarette is popular among teens.

While I am certainly no expert, I can tell you that what I learned scared the you-know-what out of me. Here are just a few facts:

  • In Ottawa county, 1 in 4 teens report vaping in the past 6 months.
  • According to this panel of experts, vaping cuts across all social lines. Rich, poor, male, female, athlete, marching band member, white, non-white
  • The “juice” pods contain multiple harmful substances including nicotine, glycerol, formaldehyde, and asbestos.
  • One pod contains the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.
  • Many of the companies that produce these products claim to be a “smoking cessation” product, but they are clearly marketing to teens.
  • The devices used to vape are super discreet. Many look just like a jump drive.
  • The legal age to purchase vapes is 18, but several sources suggest that online purchases by underaged kids is very common.
  • Because it smells like fruit, flowers and other natural substances it can be very difficult to detect.
  • Teens’ developing brains are especially susceptible to its addictive properties.

After taking in all of that scary information, what can we as parents do?

Educate Yourself on Vaping and the Dangers

First, educate yourself by reading articles and talking to other parents. Then educate your kids (I would suggest around middle school). has a lot of great information.

Use Open-Ended Questions to Communicate With Your Kids

Keeping the lines of communication open with your kids is important in so many ways. If you talk about things on a regular basis, it’s not as awkward to talk about topics like this.

It’s also important to ask the right kind of questions. When you ask kids questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” you are not going to get much information. Asking open ended questions allows more room for dialogue.

For example, the first time I asked my son about vaping it went a little something like this:

Conversation with Yes/No Questions

Me: “Do kids vape at your school?”

Son: “Ya.”

Me: “Anyone you know?”

Son: “Um, not really.”

Me: “OK good, it’s super dangerous.”

There was a bit more to the conversation, but you get the idea.

Here’s how our second conversation went:

Conversation with Open-Ended Questions

Me: “So I learned a lot about vaping tonight. Talk to me about what you see happening at school.”

Son: “Um, lots of kids do it.”

Me: “What do you think about that?”

Son: “It’s stupid.”

Me: “What do you mean by that?”

Son: “It’s just stupid. I don’t get why anyone would do it. It’s like super bad for you.”

Me: “It’s important to me that you understand how dangerous it is. I didn’t really understand how dangerous it is until I went to this meeting. A lot of kids think it’s just flavored water vapor, but it’s not. It’s just as dangerous as smoking a cigarette, maybe even worse. Where do you think it’s happening?”

Son: “Kids do it in the bathroom all the time. I think sometimes people do it in their cars.”

Me: “How have you handled being in situations when that’s going on?”

Son: “I have been offered it a bunch of times. I just say no. I try to not make a big deal about it.”

Me: “I am proud of you for turning that down. It’s important that you stick to what you know is right.”

See how I got a lot more information the second time around?

Learn the Signs of a Kid Who’s Vaping

It’s way too easy to settle into the comfortable spot of, “My kid would never do that!”

Fact: teens are impulsive, likely to take risks, think they are invincible, and are incredibly susceptible to peer pressure. All of this combined means it is very possible that your child will try things they know they shouldn’t. Here are some possible signs that your child is vaping:

  • They become more irritable or restless (especially if this is paired with them going to their bedroom or other private area and coming back much more calm and relaxed).
  • They have an increased level of thirst (vaping can leave you feeling dehydrated).
  • They decrease their caffeine consumption (vaping and caffeine together can cause anxiety and mood swings).
  • They are getting nosebleeds (vaping can dry out your nose).
  • They are developing acne around their mouth.
  • You find unfamiliar USB drives, battery packs, charging cables, etc.
  • You find empty pods in the garbage.
  • They are ordering things online.

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