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The Minister for Health, Mark Butler recently announced severe restrictions on access, formulation and packaging of vaping products which limit their use to assist smoking cessation with a doctor’s prescription.  But that still leaves an unknown number of young Australians who are addicted to nicotine thanks to current vaping products.  So how to help them?  It’s a huge concern to schools and parents.

Associate Professor Michelle Jongenelis from the Centre for Behaviour Change at the University of Melbourne recently shared some practical tips for parents to help their teen stop vaping on ABC Radio National’s Health Report and for the online publication, The Conversation

Show compassion

There are many reasons why people vape. So be compassionate and try not to judge your teen. Lecturing, criticising and being punitive won’t help them quit. Position yourself as someone they can rely on.

Boost their motivation to quit

Talk with your teen about their vaping. Ask them what led to them wanting to quit.  You can both use those reasons to help motivate quitting.

Use that knowledge to balance the benefits of quitting with the costs of not quitting. You can do this using a practical exercise.

Discuss potential barriers that might get in the way of quitting. What is your teen worried will happen if they try to quit? Have they been using vaping to relax and are worried they will become more anxious? Are they worried about losing friends? Do they think they won’t be able to quit?

Set a goal

Once your child is motivated, it’s time to set a goal to quit. Work with your teen to develop a SMART goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, with a Timeframe.

That goal might be to quit vaping by a certain date. But your teen may need to set smaller goals first. This might mean “This week, I will only vape on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

Once achieved, these goals can be made more challenging until gradually, your teen has succeeded in quitting vaping.

Make sure you or your teen reward themselves for achieving their goals, even the small ones.

Establish coping strategies

Also coming up with coping mechanisms for when your teen faces barriers. When they’re at a party and they get offered a vape, what are they going to do? Coming up with coping mechanisms for that, teaching them how to say no, what excuses they might want to come up with for why they’re not vaping, again having those alternatives in place if they’re doing it for stress reduction. It’s not just a matter of ‘I want to quit’ and then you stop. In some cases that might work. But in other cases, you might need to be setting some coping strategies in place for what will happen when cravings set in or there’s peer pressure to consume these products. 

Seek support

If your teen has been using nicotine vapes – and many vapes contain nicotine even if they are not labelled as such, they may be addicted.

Contact the Quitline or see your GP to discuss support for your teen. They may need extra help weaning off e-cigarettes.


Further information

Easy Access to Vapes for Teens

Significant Harm Linked to Vaping

E-cigarettes and teens: what you need to know

Lung Foundation Australia

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