This guest post was authored by Ashley Hall, MS, Program Manager of the Northeast Tobacco-Free Community Partnership.
Concerned About Youth Vaping at Home while Schools are Closed?
During these extraordinary times, when our lives are disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, schools, organizations, and activities are closed. While parents work to establish new routines at home and help their teens adapt, they may also be thinking about how to help their teens quit vaping or smoking. Youth are spending more time in the house and may be more stressed than usual. Parents may especially want to encourage quitting because of evidence coming out that vaping, like smoking, harms the ability of the lungs to fight infection.
Are you concerned about the youth in your life vaping while spending more time in the house? What are signs to look for? How can you help?
Here are suggestions from the Tobacco-Free Community Partnerships in Massachusetts to help you respond about youth vaping, including resources for learning more.
Q: What is in e-cigarettes and vapes? I hear that it is just flavored water. What is so bad about them?
A: E-cigarettes produce an aerosol, commonly called vapor, which users inhale from the device and exhale. This aerosol may have harmful and potentially harmful substances. E-cigarettes use pre-filled pods or e-liquids/e-juices that are added to the device. E-liquids generally consist of propylene glycol, glycerin, water, nicotine, and flavorings.
Q: What can I do to prevent my child or loved ones from vaping?
A: Simply talking with your child about these products can help protect them. Let them know that you care about them and that vaping is not safe. Be patient and ready to listen; there is no” perfect time” to talk. Your goal is to have a conversation, not to deliver a lecture. So avoid criticism and encourage an open dialogue. You can start by mentioning something that you heard about vaping. Tell them the facts: e-cigarettes contain nicotine; nicotine is a highly addictive substance. The smoke from vapes is an aerosol, not water vapor. The aerosol can contain harmful substances. The resources below can help you learn more.
Q: How can I tell if my child or loved one is vaping?
A: Many types of e-cigarettes are made to resemble everyday items and come in fruity, minty, and candy-like flavors. So, you may not recognize a vaping device or an e-liquid scent.
Here are subtle signs your child might be vaping:
- Unexplained Sweet Scent – If you notice a sweet scent that is unexplainable, it might be a flavored e-juice for a vaping device.
- Unfamiliar Products – If you come across unusual looking items such as unusual pens or USB drives or an unfamiliar battery or battery charging device, they could be associated with vaping.
The best way to know is to educate yourself about the products and to talk with your kids.
Q: How can I encourage youth and young adults to quit vaping?
A: There are currently two FREE programs available in Massachusetts to help youth and young adults quit vaping, smoking or using other tobacco products.
- This is Quitting powered by truth® is a texting program for young people who want to quit vaping. It is a free, confidential 30-day program during which youth receive texts with information, tips, and support. They receive daily text messages to help them prepare to quit and supportive texts from young people who have been through the program. To enroll in the program, youth text “VapeFreeMass” to 88709. Go to mass.gov/quitvaping to learn more.
- My Life, My QuitTM is a specially designed program to help young people quit vaping or other tobacco products. My Life, My QuitTM provides five free and confidential coaching sessions by phone, live texting, or chat with specially-trained youth coach specialists. Youth can text “Start My Quit” to 855-891-9989 or call toll-free 1-855-891-9989 for real-time coaching. They can also visit mylifemyquit.com to learn more.
Q: How can I help adults who are trying to quit vaping, smoking or using other tobacco products?
A: Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to connect with the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline. The Helpline is a free and confidential service for Massachusetts residents who want help to end their nicotine and tobacco use. If you are looking to quit tobacco, you can now get help from a quit coach over the phone; or use online tools and resources; or a combination of these online features and telephone coaching. You can also enroll online using a computer or smartphone at KeepTryingMA.org.
Q: How can I learn more information and stay up-to-date?
- Facts about vaping, tips for parents, and information for schools from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health: https://www.getoutraged.org
- Basic facts for youth and a list of quitting resources for youth: https://www.mass.gov/vaping
- To contact the Tobacco-Free Community Partnership in your region of Massachusetts: http://makesmokinghistory.org/my-community/community-partnerships/