With schools closed and stay-at-home orders in full swing due to COVID-19, youth who vape have fewer places to hide their vaping behavior from their parents.
For many parents now working remotely, the distracting smell of menthol or other flavors from their child vaping in or around the house may catch them off-guard. They may also notice mood swings, agitation, impulsivity, and an inability to concentrate from their child using nicotine or dealing with cravings or withdrawal.
Indeed, a silver lining to this quarantine might be the golden opportunity this gives parents to talk to their kids about vaping and help them break the harmful behavior.
COVID-19 and youth vaping
Just how prevalent is youth vaping?
According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco survey, 27.5% of high school and 10.5% of middle school students use e-cigarettes, with 21% of high schoolers vaping on a near daily basis. Vaping among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders has more than doubled since 2017.
Some parents may wonder whether vaping puts their child at increased risk for COVID-19 or for experiencing more serious symptoms.
Here is what we know. The data are early in terms of the specific impacts of COVID-19 on people using tobacco. However, there is conclusive evidence that smoking weakens the immune system and increases the risk of infectious diseases and respiratory infections. There is also growing evidence that vaping can harm lung health.
This is why we believe it is more important than ever for young people to stop using all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to protect their health. To help kids successfully quit, parents can play an important supportive role.
Reduced access and nicotine withdrawal
Working parents confined to their home with their teen may soon be seeing their child go through nicotine withdrawal, as many experience reduced access to e-cigarettes or vaping supplies.
In April 2018, Truth Initiative® surveyed a national sample of more than 1,000 12- to 17-year-olds to learn how they acquire tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
Youth who had used a vaping product called JUUL in the past 30 days reported that they got it in one or more ways, including:
- Physical retail locations: The most common way youth got JUUL is through physical retail locations. Nearly three quarters—74 percent—of youth said that they obtained JUUL at a store or retail outlet.
- Social sources: Just over half—52 percent—reported that they received JUUL from a social source, such as a friend or family member.
With access to retail stores and social sources limited in the current environment, nicotine withdrawal may be a reality sooner than later for youth who vape.
To educate youth about how to cope with cravings from nicotine withdrawal and give parents of kids who vape tips on how to support them, Truth Initiative offers evidence-based tools that can help.
Resources for parents of kids who vape, young adults, and youth
As part of our commitment to make tobacco use a thing of the past, Truth Initiative offers several free and low-cost digital resources to help people quit. Because they are digital, these programs are easy to access, especially during a time when other kinds of support may not be available.
The EX Program
The EX Program is an employer- or health plan-paid program that gives adult tobacco users and parents of kids who vape access to educational resources, text messaging support, an active online community, and 1:1 live chat coaching with a tobacco treatment expert. Adults and adult dependents (age 18+) can also receive free quit medication delivered right to their home. See our program page to learn more.
BecomeAnEX offers free educational resources, text messaging support, and a thriving online community to parents of kids who vape and adult (age 18+) e-cigarette users as well as smokers, chewers and dippers. Parents and tobacco users complete a simple registration process at BecomeAnEX.org to get started.
This is Quitting
This is Quitting is an anonymous text message program designed to help teens and young adults (ages 13-24) quit vaping. The program is tailored by age to give appropriate recommendations about quitting. Teens and young adults can access this program for free by texting “DitchJUUL” to 88-709 to get immediate help.