School-aged children are using vaping devices at an alarming rate. According to a 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 high school students now report using e-cigarettes, and many mistakenly believe the products are safe. The engine of their popularity is a discreet and high-tech look. To make matters worse, they can deliver much higher addictive nicotine concentrations than regular cigarettes, leading to a new generation of addicted tobacco users.

Understanding why young people use vaping products highlights the critical role that parents, teachers and school administrators play in the health and well-being of their students. Influential adults are responsible for providing students with support and information to stay vape-free or the tools to quit if they are already vaping. Unfortunately, according to a Truth Initiative study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine near the start of the epidemic, less than half – 44.2% – of parents could identify a photo of JUUL (the vaping device most popular at the time) as a type of electronic cigarette. More than a third could not recognize the device at all.

So what can educators and parents do? Check out these five great resources on the latest in vaping prevention and quitting

In this Our Children article, the Truth Initiative has partnered with the National Parent-Teacher Association to bring parents and schools the most important information about youth vaping and nicotine. From the physical and mental health risks of vaping to how tobacco companies use flavors to attract young people to tobacco products, it’s packed with relevant research and free resources.

2. Download the Vaping Lingo Dictionary: A Guide to Popular Devices and Terms

From words like “ghost” and “ripski” to flash drive-like devices, the youth vaping epidemic has introduced several discreet terms, phrases and devices that can make it difficult for adults to track. The resource lists popular words, phrases, products and general language used to refer to vaping/e-cigarette use and can help parents and educators keep up to date with the latest terminology.

3. Use our free programs

Our teacher resource page includes two free programs. The first is a new digital experience designed for students in grades 8-12 – it’s self-contained, interactive, and educates students about the dangers of using e-cigarettes. The second is a program developed by Stanford Medicine that provides teachers, parents, and children with information about e-cigarettes. We also provide links to other resources for parents and teachers looking for additional information on how to talk to kids about vaping and smoking.

In this online resource from our partners at the Washington State Department of Health, parents and caregivers learn how to talk to young people about vaping and other substances. Preview: Link. Set boundaries and monitor.

5. Get the facts

To help kids make wise vaping choices, and with so much misinformation, it’s essential that parents and teachers stay up to date and get the facts from trusted sources.

Washington State Tobacco and Vapor Products Data and Reports includes the latest data on the rates of tobacco and vapor product use in our state, including its health and economic burden. And the Healthy Young People Survey is designed to provide crucial information about the prevalence of key adolescent health risk behaviors to parents, school officials, public health professionals, social service agencies, decision makers and the public.

Finally… There is hope

According to the American Lung Association, smoking rates have declined significantly and steadily among youth and adults in recent years. So there is hope that vaping rates could go in that direction as well.

Parents, teachers and school administrators have all the tools they need to influence their children’s perceptions and behaviors around tobacco and vaping. It is up to all of us to do our part and make good use of these tools.

Originally published on 09/12/2022

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