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If you aren't talking to youth about e-cigarettes, you should be

Jan 13, 2020

Youth e-cigarette use is increasing at an alarming rate, with more than 5 million middle and high school students reporting that they currently use e-cigarettes, according to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Further, more than 2,000 cases and more than 50 deaths have been reported due to lung injuries tied to vaping devices, with investigations to date showing that those who are ill used products containing vitamin E acetate.

This fall, the Wall Street Journal asked experts from across the U.S. to provide tips to help parents talk to youth about e-cigarettes. The article, “Getting Through to Your Teen About the Dangers of Vaping,” includes this advice:

1. Don’t be direct. Rather than bluntly asking young people if he or she is using e-cigarettes, try bringing up recent news to start a conversation. Be sincere and avoid judgement, even if the young person shares that he or she has tried e-cigarettes.

2. Avoid scare tactics. Educate yourself about the risks of e-cigarettes and calmly share accurate information. Resources can be found at https://www.interactforhealth.org/vaping/.

3. Be persistent. There may be many conversations about e-cigarettes. Keep communication open and ongoing—and start early.

4. Stay calm. If you find out a young person is using e-cigarettes, avoid criticism. Ask questions to better understand why he or she is smoking.

5. Know when to get help. If your child, or a child you care about, cannot stop using e-cigarettes, talk to his or her health care provider about treatment options.

As adults, we have an obligation to protect young people from harm. Teens who vape can bring about lifelong health problems and put themselves at risk for fatal lung injuries. Do your part to protect the youth you care about—start a conversation about e-cigarettes.


Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens is the president and chief executive officer of Interact for Health and InterAct for Change. Dr. Owens is a reproductive endocrinologist. He earned an MD, an OB/GYN residency and a master’s of public health degree from Yale University School of Medicine. He also obtained a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School. In recent years, Dr. Owens has served as the Hamilton County Coroner, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College President, and Interim Health Commissioner and Medical Director of the Cincinnati Health Department. 

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