Peer pressure isn’t a new phenomenon among teenagers. For decades, schools have warned kids not to bend to peer pressure and to make smart choices even if it makes them unpopular. However, teens are quick to try to fit in and they usually want nothing more than to be accepted. Now a new study from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles claims that teens are more likely to vape when their friends approve of ecigarettes.
Lead-author Jessica Barrington-Trimis said teens are facing a whole new struggle when it comes to e-cigarettes. “There is a lot of concern by the public health community that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a whole new group of people who never smoked cigarettes.” So should parents be worried? Barrington-Trimis believes awareness is key.
The study used data collected in a 2014 survey of California teens. Out of more than 2000 surveyed young people, 25 percent said they had tried an e-cigarette and 20 percent said they had tried a tobacco cigarette. Of course, not all of these teenagers are currently smoking and vaping. When they were questioned about their actions in the last month, 10 percent had used an ecig and six percent had used a tobacco cigarette.
Teens were also questioned about their views on how smoking and vaping impacted their health. Nearly 14 percent of teens said they don’t think ecigs are harmful, but 99 percent of young people believed that cigarettes were dangerous.
According to surveys, teens were more likely to use ecigs if their family and friends approved. If people in their home used ecigs, they were more likely to experiment with vaping as well. If their friends approved of vaping, they were also more likely to use ecigs.
Parents have a delicate issue to deal with here because much is still unknown about ecigarettes. Even though they are tobacco-free, they still are not meant for use by minors. Barrington-Trimis said parents need to talk to their teens and monitor who they are spending time with. “Parents should just be aware if their teens are hanging out with others who are using these products,” she said.
How would you handle this issue with your kids? If you’re a parent, have you talked to your child about e-cigarettes?