CHICAGO (CBS) — As two more deaths linked to vaping were confirmed on Friday, parents might be wondering what steps they can take to protect their teens and tweens from the possible dangers of vaping products.
CBS 2 spoke with parent and youth development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a family physician who emphasizes communication as a strategy to help young people avoid many of the temptations they will face throughout their lives.
“Most parents feel woefully confused and unprepared,” she said. When it comes to vaping, “that is not a liability.”
Dr. Gilboa recommends using the lack of knowledge as a launching point to discuss vaping with tweens and teens. Ask them what they know about vaping and where they learned it. Sit with them as they do an online search and together learn about vaping and its potential dangers. Discuss what websites and resources provide the most accurate information.
Medical experts do not yet fully understand what is causing the 450 cases of vaping-relating illnesses currently under investigation. As CBS has reported, some of the marijuana products that recently sickened users across the country all contained the same chemical – a type of oil made from vitamin E.
Although vaping can be useful for smokers trying to kick the habit, said Dr. Gilboa, tobacco use among teens is increasing. “E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous — and dangerous — trend among teens,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb added in a statement. “The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable.
Dr. Gilboa believes parents can talk to tweens and teens about vaping the same way they would talk about other possibly dangerous substances. If a parent discovers their tween or teen declined to vape when it was offered, Dr. Gilboa recommends saying, “I’m proud of you.”
Teaching tweens and teens to find trusted resources and question marketing campaigns around vaping can become a lifelong skill they apply to other potentially dangerous habits. “We don’t know any of the next temptations that they will face that are potentially dangerous,” Dr. Gilboa told CBS 2. “But this one gives them and us a chance to practice learning, deciding and strategizing.”