How to help your child quit vaping
Helping your child quit vaping may be one of the best parenting moves you’ll ever make.
Fueled by the popularity of JUUL and other e-cigarettes, tobacco use among young people is at the highest rates in nearly two decades. More than 1 in 4 (27.5%) high schoolers vaped in 2019, a 32% increase from the previous year. Younger students are also vaping — data show 1 in 10 8th-graders reported vaping nicotine in the past month.
As health concerns mount — reports of vaping-related lung illnesses now number in the thousands and new research provides compelling evidence that the youth e-cigarette epidemic could also lead to a rise in other drug use — many youth say they want to stop using JUUL and other e-cigarettes. A new Truth Initiative® survey shows that nearly half of young adults who vape have made quitting a 2020 New Year’s resolution. And, last year, more than half of middle and high schoolers who used e-cigarettes said they had tried to quit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To encourage more young people to stop using e-cigarettes, Truth Initiative has launched a new public education campaign, Ready to Ditch JUUL, in partnership with TikTok influencers, challenging users to creatively destroy their JUULs.
Parental support can be key to helping young people stop vaping. If you’re a parent and want to help your child quit using JUUL or other e-cigarettes, here are some tips for how to start from the experts behind the evidence-based, digital quitting programs from Truth Initiative, This is Quitting and BecomeAnEX®.
More than 1 in 4 (27.5%) high schoolers vaped in 2019, a 32% increase from the previous year.
More than half of middle and high schoolers who used e-cigarettes said they had tried to quit.
More than 90,000 youth and young adults have enrolled in This is Quitting, the first-of-its kind e-cigarette quit program from Truth Initiative.
Know the products and the risks
What do parents need to know about e-cigarettes and vaping
Parents need to be aware of the dangers of e-cigarette use and know how to recognize vaping products, specifically JUUL, which is easily disguised as a USB flash drive.
No one knows all of the short- and long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes. But at least 60 chemical compounds have been found in e-liquids, and more are present in the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes. Researchers have identified several substances that are either harmful or potentially harmful to e-cigarette users. In fact, according to a recent Yale and Duke University study, the chemicals found in certain JUUL e-liquids produce potentially harmful acetals that may cause irritation and inflammation when heated and inhaled.
And though e-cigarettes have been marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, young people who use e-cigarettes are actually four times more likely to start smoking cigarettes in the future compared to their peers who do not use e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use among youth also puts them at risk for early nicotine addiction, which can harm brain development and make adolescent brains more susceptible to other addictive drugs. And yet many young people aren’t even aware that they’re consuming nicotine when they use e-cigarettes. About 63% of young people who use JUUL don’t know that the product always contains nicotine.
Parents may know even less. More than one-third — 35.9% — of parents of middle and high school students had no awareness of JUUL as the vaping epidemic was intensifying, according to a Truth Initiative study. Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study surveyed 2,885 parents of high school and middle school students from October to November 2018, about one month following the acknowledgement of a youth e-cigarette use epidemic by the Food and Drug Administration. Fewer than half — 44.2% — of parents could identify a picture of JUUL as a type of e-cigarette. More than one-third — 35.1% — couldn’t recognize the device at all.
JUUL, which may look like a harmless device, is only one example of the vaping industry’s efforts to target youth. E-cigarette flavors like mint, mango and cotton candy especially appeal to young people. In fact, 97% of all youth who vape use flavored cigarettes. JUUL also spent more than $1 million to market the product on the internet, and funded summer camps, visited schools and paid community and church groups to distribute their materials, according to documents and testimony from congressional hearings about JUUL’s role in the youth e-cigarette epidemic.
Support, don’t scold
How to talk to your kids about vaping
Whether or not you think your child may be using e-cigarettes, open up a dialogue with them. Be sure to talk about the health risks, because many young people still think e-cigarettes are safe, according to Robin Koval, the CEO and president of Truth Initiative, who recently spoke to NPR. "Two thirds of [youth and young adults ages 15-24]didn't realize JUUL always has nicotine," she said. "Many of them started vaping thinking it was just great flavors and water vapor. They certainly didn't sign up to become addicted."
Ask your child what they know about vaping and whether it’s happening at school. Help them think through how they’ll respond if they’re pressured to use e-cigarettes, says Megan Jacobs, managing director of product innovation at Truth Initiative, who also spoke to NPR. And if you learn that your child is vaping, don’t try to punish or shame them, Koval said. It won’t work. Vaping can affect young people’s moods and impulse control, and it’s possible your child is already addicted to nicotine.
Be positive and arm them with information and the reasons for quitting. And if they want to stop, be encouraging. As with cigarettes, quitting vaping is hard. But there are tools, some of them designed specifically for young people, that can help.
Seek out tools and resources
How to help someone quit vaping
This is Quitting, the first-of-its kind e-cigarette quit program from Truth Initiative, is tailored by age group to give teens and young adults appropriate recommendations about quitting. And it’s already showing results.
More than 70,000 young people enrolled in the program in 2019 and, according to preliminary data published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, after just two weeks of using the program, more than half — 60.8% — reported that they had reduced or stopped using e-cigarettes. Already in 2020, more than 90,000 youth and young adults have enrolled.
The program — created with input from teens, college students and young adults who have tried to, or successfully, quit e-cigarettes — gives young people a free, confidential and anonymous way to access behavioral support to quit vaping. Users receive interactive daily text messages (tailored to their age, sign-up date or quit date), which feature encouragement and empathy, motivation, skill-and self-efficacy building exercises, tips and advice. It also serves as a resource for parents looking to help their children who vape.
[To access the program, users can text “DITCHJUUL” to 88709.]
Inspiration can also be found on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, where young people determined to quit are destroying their JUULs and other vaping products. truth® is amplifying this trend with its latest public education campaign, Ready to Ditch JUUL. Partnering with TikTok influencers, including Nick Uhas, Tisha Alyn and Sam Grubbs, the campaign calls on TikTok users to “ditch their JUUL” through a series of creative challenges. In one, “the ice water trick shot,” users try their best, elaborate trick shot to throw their JUUL into a cup of ice water.
Some parents are also confronting the vaping epidemic by supporting policies that would take flavored vaping products off the market. More than three-quarters of parents of middle and high school students favor a ban on flavored e-cigarette sales, according to a recent Truth Initiative study that indicated overwhelming parental support for stricter tobacco control policies aimed at preventing youth tobacco use.
The results, published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, show that 75.2% of parents support a ban on flavored e-cigarette sales and almost all – 94% – favor restrictions on marketing and advertising e-cigarette products to adolescents. More than 80% of all parents and more than 70% of parents who use tobacco support policies to limit tobacco retailers near schools and keep tobacco products out of view of adolescents.
Unfortunately, the federal administration’s recently announced policy change on e-cigarettes stops far short of what was promised on Sept. 11, when President Trump pledged to ban all flavored e-cigarette products. Instead, the ban issued in December excludes menthol flavored cartridges, and does not apply to refillable tank-based vaping systems that users can still fill with e-liquid that are available in flavors such as gummy bear and cotton candy. Truth Initiative continues to call on the FDA to fully regulate all e-cigarettes.