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Has your teen start vaping? 5 tips that will help get them to quit

If you recently found out your teen started vaping, you may be naturally concerned, but you’re not alone. More than one in four high schoolers vaped in 2019, a number climbing higher each year.

There is a misconception that e-cigarettes are less dangerous or addictive than cigarettes, but 99 percent of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is not only addictive but can harm a teen’s still-developing brain. One Juul pod contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. They also contain other harmful substances, including cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as lead.

Helping your teen quit is extremely important, but it can be difficult due to nicotine addiction and social pressure. However, with support and patience, it can be done. We’ve put together tips and resources to help you on your journey of supporting your teen to quit vaping.

Teen boy vaping outside
Aleksandr Yu / Shutterstock

Is quitting vaping hard?

E-cigarettes do contain nicotine like cigarettes do, so it can be quite hard to quit. Robin Koval, CEO, and president of Truth Initiative told NPR, “Two-thirds of [youth and young adults ages 15-24] didn’t realize JUUL always has nicotine. Many of them started vaping thinking it was just great flavors and water vapor. They certainly didn’t sign up to become addicted.”

Vaping withdrawal physical symptoms can last up to three to four weeks. Symptoms after that time are typically psychological.

However, quitting can be done. This is Quitting, an e-cigarette quit program for teens and young adults from Truth Initiative shows good results.

According to the program: “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.” Those are very encouraging odds for just two weeks of effort. To access, the program, text “DITCHJUUL” to 88709.

Quitting vaping is made easier with support, information, and a plan, and there are many resources out there to help. These at smokefree.gov are especially for teens.

Teen girl vaping near a blue wall
Aleksandr Yu / Shutterstock

Tips to help your teen stop vaping

Having your support will help your teen be successful in their quest to quit vaping. Koval says not to shame or punish your child out of vaping, but to be encouraging.

Here are five tips on how you can help your teen quit vaping.

  1. Offer support instead of scolding them. You may want to punish your teen but they’re more likely to quit with your help than if it feels like you’re against them.
  2. Be patient. Quitting and withdrawal can cause irritability, so be ready for it and know that if your teen is lashing out, it may not be entirely in their control.
  3. Have them get the quitSTART app. It’s a free product of Smokefree.gov that can help.
  4. Ask them what is going on in their life that made them start vaping. Keep talking about these issues, since they are the most likely to make them relapse.
  5. Encourage them to think about their motivation for quitting. If you’re the one leading them to quit, educate them on the health risks and other reasons to quit so that they also want to quit on their own.

Being anxious, stressed, or depressed can lead your teen to vape again, so talk with them about what they can do to deal with those feelings instead of vaping and consider if therapy could help. There are many other potential triggers for wanting to vape, such as seeing others vape, that you can talk through how to handle. You should also be aware of where they are getting the money to buy vaping supplies and how much they’re spending on vaping.

Loop in your teen’s pediatrician as well since this is a health concern. While we don’t know the long-term effects of vaping as well since it hasn’t been around as long, the effects of smoking can be improved once you quit. For example, you’re half as likely to die from lung cancer ten years after quitting smoking as a smoker.

With these resources, patience, encouragement, and a stable commitment, you can help your teen quit vaping. Make sure to educate them on why they need to quit and provide them with all the tools possible so that they’re able to do it and stay successful long-term.

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Sarah Prager
Sarah is a writer and mom who lives in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National…
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