It’s a pretty clear choice for parents to ban their teens from smoking cigarettes. But some parents may be less decided on the use of e-cigarettes.
These electronic alternatives to the real thing provide a smoke-free way to inhale nicotine and other chemicals, and offer the “cool kid” look some teens crave. While it’s illegal for minors to buy e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration says plenty of teens around the country are using them. The administration recently announced sweeping measures to compel e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers to address the problem of underage use.
But the FDA has also noted another disturbing trend in e-cigs: teens who are inhaling marijuana products through the devices. The 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed one in 11 of the middle and high school students surveyed reported using marijuana in an e-cigarette device.
Here’s the really tricky part for parents: Vaping produces very little odor and no smoke. So, kids can hide vaping easier than if they were smoking. Parents who know kids are vaping may not realize the device contains a marijuana product. Oils derived from marijuana may look similar to those used for regular vaping.
As always, it’s crucial for concerned parents to be aware of what their teens are doing. Discussing e-cigarette use and vaping of marijuana, even absent any suspicions, is key. Encourage kids to ask questions and come to you if their friends start these activities. Showing teens you are aware and that you care is a huge step toward having a constructive talk about this issue.