Smoking is out and vaping is the new ‘cool’ thing for teenagers nowadays.
Many teens across the country find it challenging to resist the temptation of vaping, and who can blame them? The bright cartoon packaging and dozens of fruity and interesting flavours make illegal nicotine vapes highly irresistible.
All of the nicotine vapes you see for sale everywhere – convenience stores, tobacconists, and even kid’s toy shops – are 100% illegal. They can also be devastating to human health, particularly in adolescents.
As a responsible parent, it’s important to know the dangerous effects of illegal vaping on teenagers. Let’s dive into it.
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Nicotine Addiction and Adolescent Brain Development
Illegal vapes all contain high levels of nicotine – even the products that claim they don’t, as listing these as ‘nicotine-free’ was their way of skirting the import laws.
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that makes even the most motivated smoker go through severe nicotine withdrawals after a few hours without it.
Continuous nicotine consumption leads to long-term dependence, especially in teens and young children – it can also lead to long-term consequences.
A young child and teenager’s brain continues developing until they’re 25. Their continued consumption of nicotine can affect areas of the brain that control attention, mood, and impulse control, especially cognitive development.
Furthermore, nicotine also negatively affects the skill development of teenagers who consume it.
Adverse Health Effects
Unlike NVPs sold legally in pharmacies, illegal vapes from the corner shop are likely to contain volatile organic compounds and high levels of heavy metals that can irritate and cause damage to the respiratory system.
- A recent lab report found high traces of cancer-causing nickel and lead in these illegal vapes – inhaled into your child’s sensitive lungs with every puff.
- Scientists in New Zealand also discovered traces of human saliva in tested e-liquids – disgusting, but also exposing your child to a plethora of potential illnesses.
Aside from the effects of nicotine addiction, teenagers and young children continuously exposed to these products are at a high risk of having complicated health issues as they age.
Unscrupulous Advertising and Marketing
When you have dozens of cool influencers, candy flavours, and cartoon-laden colourful packaging to advertise illegal NVPs, it’s easy to attract and create a new generation of nicotine addicts.
Overseas manufacturers are keen to position their products as ‘safe’ while also being a trendy lifestyle choice, making the younger generation think that vaping is harmless and cool.
And, when they do try it, the enticing candy and dessert flavours conveniently mask the harshness of nicotine, encouraging them to keep on using the product.
Aside from the unscrupulous marketing and widespread availability in place, teenage peer pressure and curiosity are typically huge factors in the spread of illegal NVPs – you’re not part of the ‘tribe’ if you won’t even try a single hit.
Unfortunately, it may only take one hit to get addicted.
The rapid spread of illegal NVPs goes hand in hand with the harmful selling practices of criminal groups; the very same ones importing recreational drugs and illicit tobacco.
At a wholesale cost of as little as $1 with a mark-up of 3,400%, there is no concern with quality or safety, only maximum profits. These are achieved by:
- High, unregulated levels of nicotine (as high as 357mg of it per disposable vape) to hook your children as fast and hard as possible;
- Zero manufacturing or ingredient standards (hint: lead and saliva aren’t medical-grade ingredients); and
- No age verification or concern for the lifelong harms they’re aiding in creating.
Lack of Regulation and Safety Concerns
When these criminal parties are involved, there’s no concern for anyone’s safety – only how much they can make per sale. If they’ll sell heroin, vapes are a cakewalk.
If overseas manufacturers are willing to have their products smuggled into the country and sold illegally, they send a clear message they’re only concerned with profits.
These manufacturers aren’t bound by any standards on product safety, characterization or identification of e-liquid ingredients and vapour compounds, or any medical manufacturing standards on equipment and facilities.
You simply don’t know what your child is inhaling.
Monitoring and Communication
As parents, we want our children to grow to their fullest potential. It can be problematic when they develop a bad habit early – but like all harmful behaviours, teen vaping can be addressed from a place of good monitoring and proper communication.
Now that you know more about vaping, hopefully it’s clear that your teens aren’t really to blame – teens can be susceptible to the pressure of fitting in, and they’re being specifically targeted from multiple angles.
It’s important to remember back to your days at school, dealing with the pressures of being a teenager and wanting to fit in. Many of us also snuck a puff behind the school bathrooms.
It’s best to stay on their level when discussing the potential risks of vaping. Empathise with them, especially if you yourself had experimented with things in your youth.
Letting anger take control during discussions (easy to do, given the alarming facts about illegal vaping) will not help the situation. Instead, create an open dialogue and hear their reasons for vaping, and their perspective on it.
Be open to how they feel about vaping and make them understand that they can approach you if they feel something is wrong or they would like to get support for quitting vaping.
Creating an open environment that respects your child paves the way for a relationship that involves you in the process, benefits both parties, and can lead to the motivation to quit.
Setting a Positive Example
Parents are the first models that children imitate, so setting a positive example is greatly important.
If you’re a current smoker or vaper, this is a great motivation to start considering quitting the habit. It gets even better if you and your teenage children can go through your quit journeys together.
How to Help Them Move Away from Vaping
Empower their ability to quit by encouraging them to be mindful of their choice in the face of peer pressure, curiosity, and nicotine dependence.
Doing so encourages them to talk to you openly without judgement and need your guidance as the best way to move forward with quitting vaping and their other crucial decisions in life in the future.
Reminding and empowering each other to be mindful of their urges – especially after they give in – ensures you and your teenager will continue to proceed towards kicking vaping and smoking for good.
Parents should be mindful and take responsibility in helping their teenagers quit vaping for good.
The marketing tactics of blackmarket vape suppliers paired with peer pressure will often entice teens to use these harmful products, but by empathising, respecting their authority on themselves, and setting a good example, you can help them kick vaping for good and develop a strong bond that can last a lifetime.
We know you’re reading this because you’re concerned about teen vaping. If you’re also looking to quit smoking or vaping for good, we can help you become a good role model to your child.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.