Tips from teachers: how to talk to your kids about vaping

Cross-posted from Public Health Insider.

What looks like a flash drive, tastes like candy, smells like nothing and could cause lifelong nicotine dependence? JUUL, the latest trend in e-cigarette consumption or “vaping,” and it’s taken the tobacco industry (and likely, your local high school) by storm. As kids head back to school this month, we want to make sure parents and caregivers have the information they need to talk to their kids about vaping.

Youth are using e-cigarettes more than any other tobacco product, and when they do, they’re probably using JUUL. In King County, twice as many youth are vaping as are smoking cigarettes – in 2016, 10% of 8th, 10th and 12th graders used e-cigarettes. So, chances are pretty good that your child or children know what vaping is, have seen someone vaping, or have friends or classmates that vape. There’s no question that movies, music and TV affect kids, but research from the CDC tells us that parents actually have the greatest influence when it comes to tobacco use.

students in class

No pressure, parents!

We teamed up with Public Health Insider to bring you these tips from Lisa Davidson, Prevention and Intervention Manager with Seattle Public Schools, about what she recommends parents do to help their kids remain tobacco-free. She shared the following:

Before you do anything else, learn about vaping, types of e-cigarettes, and the risks of all forms of e-cigarette use for young people (check out this blog post to learn more about youth vaping & their health). One of the most important things parents can do is talk to their kids. Talking to pre-teens and teens is sometimes easier said than done, right?

Here are my tips for talking to your kids about vaping:

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Find the time to talk. The sooner you start talking, the better. Bring up the subject when you see it on TV, in movies, or in magazines.


non smoking iconBe direct. Say, “I don’t want you to use e-cigarettes.” Tell them your reasons. They’ll appreciate your honesty and guidance.


Report iconTalk about the real facts. Just saying “Vaping is bad for you!” isn’t enough. Young people are more likely to listen if you give them facts. Don’t just talk about e-cigarettes – give them facts about vaping products like JUULs, and other tobacco products such as mini-cigars and hookah.


Dollar sign iconFocus on the social issues. Young people may care more about getting bad breath or irritating their friends who don’t vape than about the health risks. Help them understand the financial costs as well. Remind them that most teenagers do not use e-cigarettes/vaping products.


Cell phone in hand icon

Teach them to say no. Help them to think of what to say if they are offered vaping products. Practice with them – pretend you are a classmate asking them to vape. Ask them to come up with several responses and teach them when to walk away. Remember to praise their efforts.

Need more help talking to your kids about vaping? The Escape the Vape campaign hopes to give kids the facts they need to make the decision to stop or never start vaping themselves. Through videos the “Chemical Crew” teaches youth about the potentially harmful chemicals in vape liquid.

Along with sitting down to talk, one of the best things you can do to help your kids remain tobacco-free is to set a positive example by being tobacco-free yourself. If you use tobacco, it’s never too late to quit. Visit our website for resources to help you quit or call Washington’s Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Want to learn more about vaping and e-cigarettes? Check out these additional posts from Public Health Insider’s three-part series:

How Juul cornered the youth tobacco market and what you should know

Not just water vapor: Why e-cigarettes are so dangerous

More resources:

E-cigarettes and vapor products

E-cigarettes and vapor products CDC

Talk with your teen about e-cigarettes: A tip sheet for parents

E-cigarettes shaped like USB flash drives: Information for parents, educators, and health care providers

Quit help for teens

Information on flavored tobacco

Tools for teachers

Image credit:, Projecthayat, LAFS; &, Gan Khoon Lay.

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Comments (1)

  1. I personally had asked my child’s pediatrician about e-cigs several years ago. She did not suggest trying them, that there was no medical evidence suggesting, that they were good for you. Being a smoker for many years people seems to be far more judgemental now a days towards parents who smoke. When our grandparents smoked, and our parents turned out just fine. Baby-boomers are more judgemental maybe. Over the years though it seems way too many people are smoking far more out of them than what they were originally made for.

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