Ways to Get Involved

Young people speak up on vaping in new parent resources

Thursday, 29 Feb 2024

Vaping is fast becoming the “elephant in the room” across Australian households.

That’s why Life Ed has created free parent resources, including a video series voiced by Aussie young people called “Hey Adults”, which empowers families to combat the rise in vaping with open, honest and evidence-based conversations.

With three out of four parents (73%) concerned that their teen might try e-cigarettes or vapes, but less than half (43%) having talked to their child about it*, the issue is complex.

Life Ed’s new parent resources aim to unpack the challenges as part of their “Take a Breath” module – an Australian-first education experience for primary school students and their families.

Our top two search terms on our website are ‘vaping’ and ‘smoking’ which speaks to the confusion and misconceptions circulating in the community. That is what we are trying to combat with our new parent resources. The video series is particularly powerful as it sees Australian young people speaking up about vaping and showcasing their strengths by encouraging fact finding and open conversations.

For more than 40 years, in the classroom, we’ve seen how turning challenging conversations into engaging adventures can make a difference. We’ve also seen how this learning can then contribute to lasting change when the whole community is involved. This collective empowerment is what we are trying to achieve, and we know that parents are the key to ensuring our next generation makes safer and healthier choices.
Russell D’Costa, Life Ed Australia CEO.

Top tips to help parents talk to their children about vaping:

  • Choose the right time and place

Take advantage of “teachable moments’ – those times when you might see something in the media, or see a discarded vape on the ground. Try taking your cue from what you observe and start the conversation in a relaxed, casual way.

Young people often feel uncomfortable talking one-on-one and face-to-face, like at the dinner table. Choose a time when you won’t feel rushed and a place where you both feel relaxed, like when you’re riding in the car or walking together. We call these “sideways conversations”.

  • Appeal to their good judgement

Children and teens make smart decisions every day. Encourage them by talking about the fact that most young people don’t vape. Try asking them what they think about the “costs” of vaping, like how much they think it would cost to buy, how a nicotine addiction could affect a person at school, the costs to the environment of the waste made by disposable vapes, the impact on relationships with others in their lives etc.

Avoid using scare tactics It’s important to avoid drama and hype about vaping. Instead, encourage critical thinking by learning the facts and sharing them with your child in a two-way conversation.

  • Ask open-ended questions

Instead of asking yes or no questions, ask open-ended questions that encourage participation. If you’re genuinely curious, your teen will be less likely to get defensive.

Listen to their answers, ask more questions and keep the lines of communication open.

  • Keep the conversation going

Once you open the door to the topic, in a calm and respectful way, your young person will know that you are able to talk about these issues without being stressed or angry.

Offer to get information and learn with them and remind them that you think they are awesome and you are available to talk to them about these things at any time.

*RCH National Child Health Poll 2020.

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