HealthBeat: Talking to teens about vaping


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There are currently 13 cases of vape associated lung illnesses in South Dakota, according the most recent update from the Department of Health.

As these illnesses continue to rise across the country, local experts are speaking out.

Vaping. It’s not an easy talk to have with your kids, but experts say making time to sit down and have an open discussion is crucial.

Psychiatric Physician Assistant Garet Ford says the first thing you need to do is educate yourself.

“Vaping devices probably really can be anything. It can look like a flash drive or it can look just like a little circle or a cube,” Garet Ford said.

With so many devices on the market, it can be tough to pinpoint who is vaping, and who is simply using a USB drive.
You want to be careful how you start the conversation.

“You’re not trying to go about lecturing to your child. You know, not sitting down and saying ‘well we need to talk’ or kind of going about it in a very close minded way,” Ford said.

Instead, Ford recommends starting with questions like “what do you know about vaping?” and “have you vaped before?”
He also stresses the importance of knowing statistics and facts to discuss with kids, making sure they understand what they’re inhaling.

“I ask about nicotine use or tobacco use or smoking and recently it seems like a lot of folks have denied any type of use. And then if I ask well what about vaping, I’ve had a lot of feedback saying oh, yea I do that or oh no I didn’t do that,” Ford said.

Whether you’re the parent of a teen or a tween….

“I would say there’s not a too young type of an age,” Ford said.

…the time to have the conversation is now.

“It can feel very overwhelming on trying to figure out how to navigate all of this. Parenting is hard enough. And then kind of looking at where do I ask for help next,” Ford said.

He says a pediatrician or your child’s primary care doctor can offer guidance and information.
But he says parents also need to take a look at their own lifestyles.

“If a parent is also a smoker in the home, or vapes, looking at does the home just need to be vape free, cigarette free,” Ford said. {53:39}

While the conversation may not be easy, it could make all the difference in your child’s future.

Ford also says resources like the American Lung Association can help parents identify what various vaping devices look like.

And most importantly, he tells parents not to be afraid to ask for help.

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