On December 11, the four-month ban on sales of vaping products in Massachusetts was lifted. While the retail sales of flavored vaping liquids will remain illegal under the new Massachusetts Law, An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control, unflavored or tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes will once again be available for sale and potentially more accessible to youth.
Adolescent vaping has been on the rise. EDC’s 2018 MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey showed that recent (30-day) use of e-cigarettes nearly doubled in two years, from 15% in 2016 to 28% in 2018, with 1 in 20 high school students reporting daily use
But whether you live in Massachusetts or elsewhere, you don’t have to rely on policy to protect your children from the dangers of vaping. Here are some actions you can take to keep them safe:
- Learn about vaping, including the types of vaping products (some resemble everyday objects such as flash drives and pens) and substances that can be vaped.
- Understand the risks. The nicotine in e-cigarettes can harm adolescent brain development, expose youth to other harmful chemicals, and may increase their likelihood of smoking conventional cigarettes in the future. The more you understand the risks of nicotine addiction and vaping-related illness, the better you can convey these risks to your children.
- Talk to your children. Prevention is the first and most important line of defense. Discuss the risks, sending a clear message that you don’t approve of vaping, that you are concerned about their health, and that you want to keep them safe.
- Be vigilant and take action. If you suspect your child is experimenting with vaping, reinforce your no-use message and step up your vigilance. If you think your child may be addicted to nicotine, seek help from your child’s health care provider and be ready to support them as they work to quit.
- Maintain an open dialogue. While it may seem like policies are changing as rapidly as the vaping products themselves, don’t let your guard down. Continue engaging with your child on the topic. Ask them what they’ve seen and heard about vaping, whether kids at school are doing it, and if they’ve been tempted or pressured to try. Frequent, honest, and ongoing dialogue can help protect your children from the influences around them.
No other substance used by youth has risen as rapidly as e-cigarettes. And while the new Massachusetts law limiting sales of flavored products is a decisive step, as parents, we have the ability to act now to protect our children.
Following are some resources for more information:
- The New Look of Nicotine Addiction: Talk with Your Kids about the Dangers of Vaping
- Quick Facts on the Risks of e-Cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults
- Tobacco, Nicotine, and e-Cigarettes
Shari Kessel Schneider is a senior research director at EDC and has directed the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey research for more than a decade to monitor trends in emerging youth risk behaviors. Her prior research includes a pioneering study of the effects of raising the minimum sales age for tobacco to 21, which has influenced policy across the nation.