Talking with your teen about vaping

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Organization: Health Canada

Published: 2019-07-08

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A Tip Sheet for Parents

Before the Talk: Get the Facts

Vaping is not harmless

Risks of nicotine

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical. Youth are especially susceptible to its negative effects, as it can alter their brain development and can affect memory and concentration. It can also lead to addiction and physical dependence. Children and youth may become dependent on nicotine more rapidly than adults.

Although not all vaping products contain nicotine, the majority of them do, and the level of nicotine can vary widely. Some vaping liquids have low levels, but many have levels of nicotine similar or higher than in a typical cigarette. Quitting vaping can be challenging once a teen has developed an addiction to nicotine. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant.

Even if a vaping product does not contain nicotine, there is still a risk of being exposed to other harmful chemicals.

Vaping nicotine can alter teen brain development.

Vaping versus smoking

For people who smoke, completely replacing cigarette smoking with vaping will reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals. However, it is not safe for youth to use any nicotine products, including cigarettes and vaping products. If you suspect your child is addicted to nicotine, talk to your healthcare provider.

Vaping liquids

The ingredients typically found in vaping liquids include glycerol, flavours, propylene glycol and varying levels of nicotine. The long-term safety of inhaling these substances in vaping products is unknown and continues to be assessed.

The heating process can cause reactions and create new chemicals, such as formaldehyde. Some contaminants, such as metals, might also get into the vaping products and then into the aerosol.

Did you know?

Set a Positive Example

If you use tobacco or vaping products, be honest with your teen about the risks, and any regrets, difficulties and health effects resulting from your experience. Talk with your teen about when and why you started to smoke/vape and explain how you thought it would make you feel, and how it is affecting your health.

It is never too late to quit smoking. If you are vaping to help you quit smoking, talk with your teen about it. Talk to them about addiction and how hard it can be to quit smoking. And remember, quitting smoking is possible. For free help, visit or call 1-866-366-3667.

Vaping is not for youth and non-smokers.

Start the Conversation

Find the right moment

Take advantage of situations where you can talk about vaping. It doesn't have to be formal. For example, when passing by a group of teenagers who are vaping, take the opportunity to have a conversation with your teen about it. Discuss the facts and correct any misconceptions.

Be patient and ready to listen

Get support

Keep the Conversation Going

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