Start the Conversation About Vaping
Start the Conversation
Starting a conversation with your teen about vaping can be tough. You don’t have “the big talk about vaping” all at once though. Each time you talk about vaping in a calm, curious, and respectful way, you’re laying important groundwork.
Here are 7 key things to keep in mind:
Let them lead.
Encourage your child to talk about whatever interests them. Listen until they are done, and try to wait three beats after they stop talking before you start. Try an experiment. For every one thing you say, pause and let your child say three things (yes, three whole thoughts). It’s a good way to make sure you don't do all the talking. Give your teen a chance to teach you something new.
Start with something less personal.
It can be helpful to start the vaping conversation with something that’s not personal to your child or their connection to vaping. You could talk about something you read in the news, an ad you saw on TV, vaping in a TV show, or even here on EX. That way, the conversation is less likely to feel like an attack.
Ask open-ended questions.
Ask your teen to tell you how s/he feels about the issue you’re discussing. Avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Instead of asking, "Have you seen anything on social media about vaping?" ask, "What have you seen on social media about vaping?"
Take charge of your emotions.
If you hear something you don’t like, try not to respond with anger. Instead, take a few deep breaths. Then, try to be clear about your concerns without getting angry or accusing. Use “I” language to share your feelings, like “It scares me to think about you breathing chemicals while your lungs are still growing.” Remember, you want to be able to continue the conversation, so try to steer clear of saying things that shut it down.
Make every conversation a “win-win” experience.
Try to avoid lecturing or proving your child wrong. Show respect for their thoughts and feelings. They’ll be more likely to listen to and respect yours.
Share reasons not to vape.
There are lots of myths about vaping. The biggest myth is that vaping is totally safe. Try sharing the reasons not to vape without lecturing. You could say “I’ve heard some things recently that I didn't know about vaping. Would you mind if I share them with you?" Tell them that the chemicals in e-cigarettes can be toxic. Many young people who vape go on to smoke cigarettes. Vaping nicotine early in life can increase the chances of other addictions. They may also not know that most e-cigarettes are sold by the same Big Tobacco companies that sell cigarettes.
Show that you understand the pressures.
Big Tobacco is targeting your teen. That’s been true for a while. So, it makes sense that teens have gotten mixed messages that can’t be undone in a single conversation. Show that you understand the pressure they may be getting from friends and social media to vape. Make it clear you want to work with them to get to the truth and make healthy decisions.
If your child hasn’t started vaping, it’s great that you’re having these conversations now. You can be a healthy balance to the messages they’re getting from their friends and social media about vaping. Make sure to keep an open conversation going about e-cigarettes and vaping.
If Your Teen is Vaping and Wants to Stop
Get them connected with a free quit vaping program. At Truth Initiative, we developed the first quit vaping program for young people. It’s called This is Quitting and it’s delivered by text message. More than 450,000 young people have joined since we created it in January 2019. What’s more, our research has proven it helps young people to quit!
Your child can enroll for free by texting DITCHVAPE to 88709.
If You Want More Support
Here on EX, we have a free text message program specifically for parents like you. Sign up today for tips and encouragement. You can text QUIT to 202-899-7550 to enroll.
Our EX Community is also a great source of support for parents of kids who are vaping. Read what others are going through and share your story with people who get it.