Study reveals misconceptions among parents about vaping

A national study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan revealed some possible misconceptions among parents when it comes to kids and vaping, including the belief that vapes are easily detected by smell.

The study asked parents whether they thought they could tell their child was vaping.

“The most surprising thing from this poll was that parents are quite confident that they would know,” said lead researcher Sarah Clark.

Out of more than 1,300 parents who were surveyed, 48% said they would “definitely” know and 40% said they would “probably” know.

Among those parents, 67% said they would know because their child would tell them, and 48% said they would be able to detect it by smell.

According to Clark, there is a problem with that logic.

“Vaping isn’t as easy to detect as parents may think it is,” she said. “Unlike traditional cigarettes, there’s not a real obvious odor.”

According to the study, “vaping is easy to hide from teachers and parents, even when done in indoor areas like bedrooms, bathrooms and classrooms.”

“The smells tend to be minty or fruity, so it honestly can smell like gum or candy,” Clark said.

As for the idea that children would openly tell their parents about their vaping habits, Clark was extremely skeptical.

“The adolescent years are times when kids are experimenting, and they often do that surreptitiously,” Clark said.

Nearly 60% of parents who said they would know if their child was vaping said they would be able to tell because they would find “vaping supplies.” However, there is also a problem with that idea.

Many kids are using disposable vapes, meaning they do not necessarily bring any supplies home with them.

“I would really encourage parents to open some communication around vaping,” Clark said. “Vaping is really quick and convenient and easy to hide, so that just makes it a parenting challenge.”

The results were based on responses from parents with at least one child between the ages of 11 and 18.

The study also asked parents about ways to curb vaping among teens. 70% said more enforcement of laws against selling to minors would be an effective strategy. 57% said an increase on vape taxes would work, 52% thought limited advertising on social media could and 30% said warning labels on vape packages would be effective.

The study was conducted by Ipsos for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 to 3 percentage points.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up