A study by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan has shown that many parents are unaware of their children’s use of vaping products. The poll of 1,325 parents found that just 1% of those with children aged 11 to 14 said that their child vaped, while 3% of parents of teens between the ages of 15 to 18 reported that their child vaped. Those figures are significantly lower than the current US national averages, which indicate 3% of middle schoolers and 14% of high school students vaped in the previous three days. In the UK, 9% of schoolchildren aged 11 to 15-years old reported vaping in 2021, up from 6% since the last study in 2018.
The report found that vaping was extremely popular among 15-year-old girls, with over a fifth of those polled reporting to be current e-cigarette users. The study also showed that many parents believed they would probably know if their child was vaping because the child would tell them (67%), or they would find vape cartridges in their child’s belongings (57%), or they would smell the scent of the vape (48%), or they would find out from other people (37%).
The report warns parents that “detection may be more difficult than parents realise” because vapes do not have the same scent as cigarettes, the cartridges often look like USB sticks, and disposable vapes are small and easy to buy, use and throw away. Most parents believe their children understand the health risks of vaping, including chronic bronchitis, swelling and irritation of the lungs, and exacerbation of asthma. However, four out of five parents felt that it may be unrealistic to expect adolescents to consider the long-term effects of using vapes.
The report concludes that parents should educate themselves about vaping and speak to their children about the risks associated with it. Additionally, they should encourage schools to strengthen education programmes about vaping and work with other parents in their community.