Talk to your kids – before Big Tobacco does.

How to Start a Conversation About E-cigarettes

Vaping is dangerous and addictive, especially for teens. That’s why it’s important to talk to your child about the youth e-cigarette epidemic. Use this guide to help you get started.

Just remember: you’re helping them avoid permanent brain damage – and a lifetime of addiction.

Before You Start

Want your message to stick? Set a good example. Children of parents who smoke are more likely to start smoking at an early age. If you use tobacco, consider quitting. Get free help by calling the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT NOW or visiting

9 Tips for a Productive Talk

  1. Find the right moment. A natural discussion will boost the likelihood your teen will listen. Ask your teen what they think when you see someone vape in public or see an advertisement.
  2. If you catch your child using e-cigarettes, avoid threats and ultimatums. Instead, ask why they use it. Then talk about what you can do to help them stop.
  3. Education is crucial. In a recent survey, 60% of teen vapers were unaware their device always contained nicotine. Warn them about addiction.
  4. Discuss Big Tobacco’s role. Talk to your kids about the marketing of e-cigarettes toward their generation.
  5. Focus on health concerns. Nicotine is dangerous to developing teen minds, as it can cause complications like mood swings, anxiety, irritability and learning difficulties and addiction.
  6. Keep the line of dialogue open. If they ask a question you don’t know the answer to, research it together.
  7. Find out if they have friends that vape. Talk with them about peer pressure and ways to say no.
  8. Use real life examples. If you have friends or relatives who have been addicted to tobacco, tell your kids about it.
  9. Have your kid take a pledge to stay away from vapor products.


Many parents find that texting is a great way to reach their teens. Here are some suggested text messages that might catch your teen’s attention.

Connect and encourage.

  • You always liked science. Check out the science behind e-cigarettes and young people:
  • Getting off nicotine is hard, but I’m so happy I quit. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Smoking, tobacco and e-cigarettes are unsafe for young people.

Remind and repeat.

  • Most teenagers don’t use e-cigarettes.
  • Vapes with nicotine can mess with your brain, and your brain is still developing until you are at least 25.
  • You might be tempted by e-cigarette or vape flavors, but inhaling them can be harmful.

Share facts and resources.

  • I just learned that many e-cigarettes have nicotine in them. That’s the drug that makes cigarettes so addictive. Nicotine can also mess with your brain development.
  • I just saw a report from the Surgeon General that e-cigarettes can mess with your brain development. They might even affect your mood and focus. Please don’t use any products that contain nicotine.
  • I hope none of your friends use e-cigarettes around you. Even breathing the clouds they exhale can expose you to nicotine and chemicals that can be dangerous to your health.

How to Answer Their Questions

Why don’t you want me to vape/use e-cigarettes?

  • E-cigarettes contain ingredients that are addictive and could permanently harm your brain.
  • Your brain is still developing, which means you are more vulnerable to addiction. Many e-cigarettes contain nicotine which can change your brain and make you crave more of it. It can also affect your memory and concentration. I don’t want that for you!
  • E-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals. When people use e-cigarettes, they breathe in particles that can harm their lungs.
  • The “cloud” that people exhale from e-cigarettes exposes you to chemicals that are not safe to breathe.
  • If you start using vapes now, there’s a higher chance you’ll start smoking too. Both can be very hard to quit, and they’re dangerous to your health.

What’s the big deal about nicotine?

  • Your brain is still developing until about age 25. The Surgeon General reported that nicotine is addictive and can harm your brain development.
  • Using nicotine at your age may make it harder for you to concentrate, learn or control your impulses.
  • Nicotine can train your brain to be more easily addicted to other drugs like meth and cocaine.

Aren’t e-cigarettes safer than conventional cigarettes?

  • Scientific studies show that it isn’t safe for you because your brain is still developing. That includes all nicotine products, including e-cigarettes.
  • Whether you get nicotine from an e-cigarette or a cigarette, it’s still risky.

I thought e-cigarettes didn’t have nicotine – just water and flavoring.

  • A lot of people think this, but it’s not true. E-cigarettes have nicotine and other harmful chemicals.
  • Let’s look at the Surgeon General’s website on e-cigarettes together so you can see for yourself.

I (or my friends) have tried e-cigarettes and it was no big deal.

  • I appreciate your honesty. In the future, I hope you (or your friends) will stay away from e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. E-cigarettes contain ingredients that are addictive and could harm different parts of your body.
  • Next time we go to the doctor, let’s ask about the risks of nicotine, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products.

You used tobacco, so why shouldn’t I?

  • If I could live my life over again, I never would have started smoking. I learned that people who smoke cigarettes are much more likely to die from certain diseases than people who don’t smoke. That was really scary, so I quit smoking.
  • Quitting was really hard, and I don’t want you to go through that. The best thing is not to start at all.

Curious about e-cigarettes and their effects? Discover Big Tobacco’s newest trick.

Get the Facts