Over the past few years, nicotine use in children and adolescents has rapidly increased, largely because of a product called JUUL. Introduced in 2015, JUUL is an e-cigarette that’s leading to what public health officials call “a youth e-cigarette epidemic.”
“In 2018, e-cigarette use among high school students rose by 78 percent, and more than 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes – an alarming increase of 1.5 million students in one year,” according to the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids.
While experts are unsure of the long-term health effects as the technology is new, usage can affect your child’s health in the future.
Nicotine use in any form, including e-cigarettes, can harm the developing adolescent brain and cause addiction. Multiple studies have found that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become smokers in the future.
JUUL itself has taken some precautions to prevent young people from using their products. The brand stopped selling flavors such a crème brûlée in stores — however they are available online. They also support state and federal initiatives to raise the tobacco-buying age to 21.
What you can do about e-cigarettes
That may not be enough to stop children from vaping, however. What can you — as a parent — do to prevent your child from using e-cigarettes?
Dr. Ronna Schneider of Suburban Pediatrics says the best thing parents can do is to “start communicating with them about the dangers and risks early on.” She says that you can have this conversation as early as middle school, or even before, as this is often when they are first exposed to it. If your child plays sports, you can also explain the impact e-cigarettes could have on their performance.
If your child has already started using e-cigarettes, it is not too late to help them. You can help ween them off the nicotine by monitoring their use and by discussing why they are doing it. Then you work with them to replace it with a healthier behavior.
For professional assistance, ask your Suburban Pediatrics provider to recommend an effective smoking cessation program.