Have you talked to your children about e-cigarettes?

Just recently I was at a party at a friend’s house when one of the guests pulled out an e-cigarette and started “vaping” while chatting with other guests in the kitchen. I have become so accustomed to living in a smoke-free environment that I was thrown off by this guest’s nonchalant behavior as he puffed away indoors. It was my first real encounter with e-cigs, which produce a nicotine-laced vapor rather than traditional smoke.

If you are not familiar with e-cigs, this article gives some helpful background information. Some of the important points include the fact that the health consequences of e-cigs are largely unknown. While some of the tar and other substances associated with tobacco are not produced by e-cigs, there do seem to be links between the nicotine itself and some cancers.

Another recent article reveals trends more concerning for parents: because e-cigs are classified differently than tobacco products, many of the regulations that exist for tobacco products do not apply to e-cigs, including regulations about advertising. This means that many teens who would not see advertisements for cigarettes are nevertheless exposed to advertising for e-cigs. It is very possible that your teen knows more about the new trend than you do!

If you haven’t already, initiate a conversation with your children about e-cigarettes. Find out what they already know and if any of their friends have tried vaping (using e-cigs). Ask if your child thinks e-cigarettes are as harmful as regular cigarettes and inform your children of their risks. Do you know where e-cigs are sold in your community? Have you seen advertisements for them? Stay informed and make sure your children know that you are aware of the trend. Communicate your expectations to your children about how you want them to handle e-cigs.

By Andrea Nelson Google

Teens Less Likely to Smoke When Parents Set Limits

If you sometimes feel like you don’t know how to guide your teen through the various minefields they face, then you are not alone.  Am I being too strict?  Will they rebel against too-tight boundaries?  Or am I too lenient, and will they take advantage of opportunities to stray? In the area of teen smoking, a Chicago Tribune article offers advice based on a new study showing that “parents who set limits are less likely to have kids who smoke, regardless of their ethnic and racial backgrounds.” Apparently, a style of parenting “associated with rule enforcement, curfews and set bedtimes, was more likely to go hand in hand with so-called anti-tobacco parenting strategies.”  The article reported that this type of parenting was linked to a lower chance the teen would initiate smoking at all.  Specifically, the anti-tobacco strategies included things such as:

  • Punishing a child if he or she has been caught smoking
  • Discussing with the child the motivations behind smoking
  • Talking about the dangers of smoking

Sleep-deprived Teens Engage in Risky Behaviors

Now that school is back in swing, and your teen can’t stay buried under the covers until noon like he might have during the holiday break, is he getting enough sleep?  A study of 12,000 teens by the Center for Disease Control found that 7o% of young people are not getting the sleep they need to face the challenges and temptations that come their way .  Lack of sleep negatively affects the prefrontal cortex, which in teens is still developing; this is the part of the brain that helps in making good judgments.  So teens who are sleep-deprived are not just at risk of performing more poorly in school, they are also more likely to engage in sexual activity and use cigarettes, alcohol or drugs.  They were also more likely to report being depressed or suicidal.  The takeaway is that they MUST get more sleep; it’s not just important to their performance in school, but in life.  The ABC report on this study also gives some great suggestions on helping your kids get a good night’s sleep, bettering their chances of having a better life.

How to get your teen to think smoking is gross

In reading about two new studies showing yet more consequences to second-hand smoking, I stumbled across a strategy for parents to use to keep their kids from wanting to smoke in the first place.  The article mentioned that kids who describe the smell of cigarette smoke as “gross” or unpleasant, were 78% less likely to start the habit. This is important because, as the article points out, “the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse found that nine out of 10 people who meet the clinical criteria for substance abuse began smoking, drinking or using other drugs before they turned 18, and that this is a big concern in teens as they are more likely to try risky things while their brains are still developing.”

So besides stopping smoking if you are a smoker yourself (obviously beneficial to your children), how can we parents create an “eeewww” reaction in our children?  Click here for an article about the ugly effects of smoking from kidshealth.org.  You could have your teen sit and read it with you for a mini-teaching session which includes a picture of diseased lungs, and the list of “gross” things about smoking, like having bad skin, bad breath, and bad-smelling clothes and hair.   We all know how vain teens can be, and appealing to their vanity might be quite effective!