New ‘Vape Free Schools’ campaign aims to help parents get kids off vaping

There appears to be a bright spot when it comes to the ongoing problem of kids who vape: the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of kids who are vaping or using e-cigarettes has started to decline.

But that silver lining still exists around a dark cloud: every day nearly 8,000 kids start using those products even though by law they aren’t allowed to, according to numbers from the American Lung Association.

That’s why the ALA launched its Vape Free Schools Initiative, aimed at helping parents talk to their kids about using those products in a way that doesn’t backfire.

“The nicotine levels in the vaping devices and products many times is significantly higher than what is even stated on the label,” said Jennifer Folkenroth, National Senior Director of Tobacco Programs with the American Lung Association. “These are tobacco products. Don’t let the disguise fool you.”

She said younger people are especially vulnerable to the addictive properties of these products, which is why they’re offering tips for parents to help them have conversations, and not confrontations, about them.

“It is really important that parents are educated and aware,” said Folkenroth. “Before they even have the conversation with the teen, knowing the facts, putting themselves into their child’s shoes and taking an open and calm approach.”

She said parents need to acknowledge their teen’s independence and listen to their perspective and perception.

“Make sure that you are really putting the blame back on big tobacco,” said Folkenroth. “The tobacco industry is manipulating our kids into using these products each and every day. Don’t blame your child. Really put that blame back on big tobacco with their marketing tactics.”

Then you have to be willing to follow up in the future and be willing to help your kid manage the stress and peer pressure they may face when they aren’t at home.

“Research continues to prove the harmful impact of e-cigarettes and vaping products,” she said.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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