Baby proofing. Check. Teaching your kids to look both ways when crossing the street. Check. Educating your kids about vaping. No? Not yet? 

There are so many things to think about as a parent. It can be overwhelming. And teaching about the dangers of vaping e-cigarettes is something that may not be on your radar. But we all need to talk about it with our families, and probably sooner than you may think. 

The fact is that even young kids are exposed. They have probably seen older kids vaping or heard about it from other kids, on social media, or even from family members. We want to have conversations with our kids early about vaping to prevent them from starting.   

Youth vaping is not about bad parents or misbehaving children. E-cigarette companies target our kids as their future customers. 95% of tobacco users start before the age of 18. Children’s brains are not yet fully developed, so they are highly susceptible to addiction. Flavors like gummy bears, fruity cereal rings, sour melon, and marshmallow milk entice youth to try vapes, and the high level of nicotine gets them hooked. Flavored vapes also offer a dangerous gateway into other addictive products, and youth who vape nicotine is up to 5 times more likely to smoke cigarettes.

E-cigarettes were designed and marketed to fly under the radar of parents and teachers. Devices are discrete and are hidden in plain sight. They are clearly meant to appeal to kids and to deceive adults. Parents often find items that look like everyday school supplies around the house, like flash drives, pens, and highlighters, only to discover that they are, in fact, vaping devices. 

In stores, colorfully packaged flavored vape products are located next to equally colorful and flavored candy to get kids’ attention, and many stores sell illegally to youth without any age verification. On social media, young influencers who use flavored vapes may seem cool to a younger audience, and now kids who would otherwise never have used nicotine are vaping. 

Talking with your child about vaping may seem overwhelming, but it’s important to start a dialogue on the topic early so that your kid will feel comfortable speaking openly and sharing information with you. Many people think vaping is harmless. They may not know about the hidden dangers that put them at risk for serious health harms and a lifetime of addiction. 

In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes contain heavy metals, toxic flavor chemicals, and other unsafe substances for children’s brains, lungs, and bodies. Understanding that most kids have misconceptions about vapes, parents can help add clarity and information to the discussion.  

Ask questions about your child’s child’s experiences with vaping. For instance, do they know kids at school who vape? Remember, kids are targeted by a predatory industry. Try not to blame them or get angry. Learn the signs of addiction so you can know if your child needs help quitting. We must do what we can to protect them. The first step is education. Education for you and your kids.

One group that plays a critical role in youth tobacco prevention by providing accessible parent education to communities across the country is Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes (PAVe). PAVe provides tips, resources and support to help parents navigate the youth vaping landscape and help children avoid or quit using tobacco products. 

PAVe offers concrete tips on how to recognize the signs that your kid is vaping and how to talk to them about the dangers. They detail how nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm brain development which continues until about age 25, impacts learning, memory, attention, and increases the risk for future addiction to other drugs. If you want more information about health harms, how to recognize the signs of youth vaping, help in how to talk to your kids about vaping, or have other questions, reach out to You can also click here for more information. 

In Oregon, there are things we can do as parents and community members in addition to education.  In Multnomah County, the Board of Commissioners recognizes the impact of youth vaping on our community. Chair Kafoury is requesting public comment on an ordinance to end the sale of flavored nicotine products in Multnomah County. The Board is interested in local perspectives on this issue. Those who wish to comment on the proposed ordinance can do so here. They’re also having a hearing on Monday, November 28, 2022, at 5:30 pm. Both opportunities offer a chance for us as parents to have our voices heard.

Remember, parenting is hard, but you are not alone. Get support where you can. And work with organizations like PAVe in Multnomah County and state-wide to call for the elimination of flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, and all flavored tobacco products to help protect our kids from becoming the next generation of nicotine users.

Disclosure: Johanna is a staff writer for Oregon Kid and the Communication Manager for Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes in Multnomah County, Oregon.