RE@L’s “1Up On Vaping™” LearningProduct brings to our RE@LBlog Readers a series of interview blogs from two local pediatric doctors on the perils of teen vaping and nicotine use: Dr. Anne Griffiths and Dr. Rose Marie Leslie.
All six RE@LBlog interviews were conducted by RE@L Media Content Producer, Tacy Mangan. Each will be shared with our readers in coming weeks.
Dr. Anne Griffiths is a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Minnesota and Children’s Respiratory and Critical Care Specialists.
Her work with teenagers includes treating those with vaping associated lung injury. Click on the photo to the left to read our previous Dr. Anne Griffiths’ Blog Interview #2 if you missed it.
BLOG #3: TIPS FOR EDUCATORS AND PARENTS ON TALKING TO TEENS ABOUT VAPING:
“As an adult, you have to kind of drill down to figure out what it is that teens have read or heard that makes them feel that this is safe and then point out some of the flaws in that logic.”
TM: Our audience for these blogs is mainly educators, teachers from all over the country, and they’re always interested in more information, about vaping, the kind of information that they can use, as well as what they can say and how they can address their students. How would you advise parents or teachers speak to students about vaping?
“…the students are doing their homework when they start vaping.”
AG: The first thing to consider is that the students are doing their homework when they start vaping. They’re just getting the wrong information. They’re making smart decisions based on wrong theories. They don’t just pick it up like they haven’t thought about it. They’re reading all of the chatrooms posts and social media about how there are fewer impurities or there are fewer chemicals involved. But, driving home the point that while, you know, if you took out ninety five percent of known carcinogens, so now you have maybe ninety five other ingredients in your device, if the five that are left are really bad for you and you’re doing them a lot more often, it’s not safer.
“They’re getting tricked and they’re really being lied to…”
I call that the Whole Foods phenomenon, where our children have grown up in an environment where they’re reading labels and they’re trying not to ingest artificial flavorings and chemicals. And they latch onto this concept of, well, if it’s an FDA, food grade flavoring, it’s ok. That doesn’t mean it should be in your lungs just because it’s safe to be in your stomach. They’re getting tricked and they’re really being lied to, and teens should know that the people who create many of these products are not looking to come from a point of trust and authenticity.
I think that’s important for the teenagers to know that they’re giving these companies the benefit of the doubt, when they know it must be bad.
“They (our students) think the person who made the (vaping) product has their best interests at heart.”
AG: As an adult, you have to kind of drill down to figure out what it is that teens have read or heard that makes them feel that this is safe and then point out some of the flaws in that logic. You know, when I hear people say there was a sticker over the box, I know it wasn’t tampered with, and I remind them, this wasn’t made in a lab. This was made in somebody’s basement. They put that sticker on there to get a false sense of security from you. And that individual doesn’t care about you.
That individual is just trying to dilute their drug to the least amount and spread it to the most number of people they can. There are thickeners in there, like vitamin C acetate, which is something that we have talked about as an ice cream filler. It’s to fool people into thinking they’re getting more product than they are and vice versa.
The concept that getting the highest concentration possible must be safe, has actually now taken our brain to a whole other level in terms of chemical dependence. So, the teens are smart, they’re doing their homework. We need to, as adults, look for where some of those rules of logic are and help our teens navigate because they are trusting, they’re trusting people. They’re doing their research, but they’re too trusting. They think the person who made the product has their best interests at heart.
TM: That’s such good information for parents and educators also who are on the front lines with these teens. How can adults support them?
…it is absolutely critical that the parents and teachers know the terminology.”
AG: I think having a conversation about what’s meaningful really does matter, and trying to fill that time, the amount of time kids have today is massive. What are they going to do with that time in between classes or activities and what is it that they can do that provides contentment, fulfillment and meaning?
And for some kids, that might be outdoor activities. Maybe they get more involved in skiing or running or they get more involved in socialization. Some teens want to do something for other people or they become more passionate about the environment, the community or whatever it is that gives them contentment, peace. It’s not just happiness. It has to be the contentment because that has a whole feedback loop to our hormones and well-being.
TM: Do you have any tips for parents or teachers about how they can convey that information to teens?
AG: I think it is absolutely critical that the parents and the teachers know the terminology. If we talk about these things like they’re totally foreign or alien to us, it alienates the teenager. I always try to stress to people, don’t say to a teenager, “you don’t do any of those, I don’t know, e-cigarettes or Dabbs or whatever.” If you use that sort of dismissive terminology, like you have nothing to do with it, it totally turns the teens off.
“It’s a whole other language, but it’s important to know that language as a parent.”
If you can say, hey, what do you know about vaping or what do you think about the chatter or what do your friends think about dab and wax pens? Do you think it’s right? Do you think it’s wrong? What do you think people are assuming about those products? I think using that sort of like more neutral vocabulary, but also knowing some of the terminology really engages them in active dialogue that respects the teenager’s intelligence. It’s a whole other language, but it’s important to know that language as a parent.
At Children’s Minnesota, we came up with and designed a website to help teachers and educators and parents recognize some of these devices. We also pulled in links from the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. There are some great primers for educators on what you’re looking for, what these devices look like, what the terminology is that the kids are using. This information makes students feel much more comfortable about having an open conversation about vaping.
“This information makes students feel much more comfortable about having an open conversation about vaping.”
Having productive conversations is where those of us adults, parents and teachers, who care about our youth also want to be.
Thanks to Dr. Griffiths for her insights and strategies to help kids stop vaping, or even better, never start it.
RE@L ADDS OUR “THANK YOU” TO DR. GRIFFITHS FOR THIS HELP-FULL INTERVIEW….LET’S HELP OUR STUDENTS HELP THEMSELVES TO HEALTH-FULL!
COMING SOON: RE@L Part 1 interview with Dr. Mary Rose Leslie:
ADVICE FOR TALKING WITH TEENS ABOUT VAPING!