Using tobacco in any form is not safe.
Most people who use tobacco regularly start before they turn 18. Youth report using different kinds of tobacco products, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes (vapes), cigarillos, hookah, smokeless (chewing or dipping) tobacco or snuff, and a variety of new and emerging products.
Kids need to know the dangers of using any type of tobacco now and in the future. Nicotine exposure during youth can harm the developing adolescent brain and can lead to a lifetime of nicotine addiction and tobacco use. Nicotine exposure can also prime the adolescent brain for addiction to other drugs.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Preventing the use of tobacco products in youth is a very important step to help keep kids healthy and to help stop the tobacco epidemic. And if they've already started using cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or other forms of tobacco, helping them quit is critical to protecting their health now and later in life.
Research has shown that teens whose parents often talk with them about the dangers of tobacco use are about half as likely to smoke as those who don’t have these discussions with their parents. This holds true whether or not the parents use tobacco themselves.
Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for parents to help keep kids tobacco-free:
For information on how to prevent youth tobacco use, the CDC provides data, reports, and other resources on youth tobacco prevention as well as information about youth e-cigarette use and prevention.
The Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids has helpful information for schools to help kids stay tobacco free.
If your child has already started using any form of tobacco, including e-cigarettes, try these tips to help them quit:
There are programs and resources that have been developed specifically for teenagers and young adults to help them quit. They include:
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Smoking & Tobacco Use. Keep kids e-cigarette free. Accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/features/ecigarettes-back-to-school/index.html on November 12, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Smoking & Tobacco Use. Youth and tobacco use. Accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use/index.htm on November 12, 2020.
Drope J, Cahn Z, Kennedy R, Liber AC, Stoklosa M, Henson R, Douglas CE, Drope J. Key issues surrounding the health impacts of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and other sources of nicotine. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2017;87(6):449-471.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. Know the risks. Accessed at https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/knowtherisks.html on November 12, 2020.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.
Last Revised: November 17, 2020