A large study carried out by researchers at UC San Francisco discovered that parents typically know, or at least suspect, when their child is smoking, but parents of children who are vaping or using other tobacco products are more likely to be completely unaware.
23,000 participants aged between 12 and 17 years of age were tracked in the study which discovered that, when their child was using e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, or non-cigarette combustible products, the parents or guardians were significantly less likely to report knowing or even suspecting that their child was using tobacco.
Interestingly, researchers also discovered that when parents or guardians set rigid household rules about not using any form of tobacco – and these rules applied to all household members – it was significantly less likely that their children would start using tobacco. The research discovered that simply talking to kids about the disadvantages of smoking was much less effective.
In the UK, it is illegal for under 18’s to purchase e-cigarettes or vapes. Although it is not illegal fro 16 and 17 year olds to vape, they are not actually permitted, by law, to buy smoking paraphernalia.
In the same way as with cigarettes, a drug test for smoking can detect the recent use of vapes or tobacco products. This is because the body typically takes 2-3 days to expel all traces of the nicotine from the body.
1 in 4 High School Students Are Vaping
The smoking landscape has altered dramatically over the last decade, particularly with young people where cigarette smoking has declined, but there’s been a dramatic rise in the use of electronic cigarettes. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year that at least one out of every four high school students had a vaping habit.
The UC San Francisco study used data compiled by PATH (Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health) in order to determine parental awareness, or lack of, of tobacco use by young people and how the role of household tobacco rules can prevent smoking. While the study looked at cigarettes and e-cigarettes, it also studied non-cigarette combustible products like pipes, cigars, bidis, and hookahs, in addition to smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco, snuff, dissolvable tobacco, and snus.
Study results revealed that parents and guardians were much more likely to suspect or even know that their child was using a nicotine or tobacco product if the child was male, identified as white, older, and lived with a tobacco user; this also included less educated parents, while mothers were found to be more aware than fathers.
It was also discovered that, when compared to young people living in permissive homes, teens and tweens living in homes where tobacco use was strictly prohibited were between 20 and 26% less likely to start using tobacco.
The researchers at UC San Francisco suggested that parents do the following –
- Don’t smoke (you can’t expect your children to not smoke if you do!)
- Make and enforce strict household rules against tobacco use and make it clear that the rules apply to all household members.
- Ensure that all parts of the home are tobacco-free environments; and
- Establish clear communications with all young people regarding the dangers of tobacco use.
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This post was originally published in October 2020.