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How to help your teen quit e-cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes) are battery-operated devices designed to deliver nicotine with flavorings and other chemicals to users in vapor instead of smoke. They can be manufactured to resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes, cigars or pipes, or even everyday items like pens. 

More than 250 different e-cigarette brands are currently on the market and they are often marketed as a safe alternative to smoking since they don't fill the lungs with harmful smoke. Manufacturers also entice young people with popular flavors such as Red Bull. Some of the most dangerous flavors include Hot Cinnamon Candies, Banana Pudding (Southern Style), and Menthol Tobacco.   

Effects of e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes don't fill the lungs with harmful smoke, which is why some people believe they are a safe alternative to smoking. They do, however, still put nicotine — a highly addictive drug — into the body. 

Nicotine affects the brain, nervous system, and heart. It raises blood pressure and heart rate. The larger the dose of nicotine, the more a person's blood pressure and heart rate go up. This can cause an abnormal heart rate (arrhythmia). In rare cases, especially when large doses of nicotine are involved, arrhythmias can cause heart failure and death. 

Over time, nicotine use can lead to serious medical problems, including heart disease, blood clots and stomach ulcers.

Keep teens from using
Since nicotine is so addictive, the best way to avoid the health problems it can cause is to never start smoking or vaping. If your teen smokes and wants to quit, consider the following tips to kick the habit: 

  • Create a plan. Your teen should set a date to begin the quitting process. Then, even a modest goal — like using one less e-cigarette each day for a week — can work.
  • Keep busy. Distractions like exercise or doing something that involves using the hands (art, music, knitting, etc.) can help an urge to smoke or vape pass.
  • Overcome cravings. When your teen craves a cigarette or e-cigarette, encourage him or her to think "wait" rather than "no," then do something to distract from the craving. Chances are, the urge will pass, and that means one less cigarette.
  • Get support. Encouragement from you and other family members when your teen really wants a cigarette is important. Joining an online or in-person support group can help, too.

    It's also important to note the FDA does not endorse e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool as they may contain harmful cancer causing ingredients.

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