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A parent’s guide to vaping

One of the things about having rugrats is that you have to answer a lot of questions. Seriously, so many questions.

‘Why is the sky blue?’ Erm…

‘Where does the sun go in the evening?’ Hmm…

‘Where do babies come from?’ Uhm… Go ask your mum/dad/gran/that nice person standing over there.

One thing you might be asked about, no matter how old your children are, is vaping. Let’s be honest, a kid sees an adult blowing smoke rings, and they’re going to think they’re half-person, half-dragon!

Many of the parent’s guides to vaping we’ve seen on the internet, with the greatest respect, are very ‘OMG, YOUR TEEN IS VAPING! DELINQUENT! BAD PARENTING!’ We wanted to put our own guide out there, with slightly less pearl-clutching and Karen-ing involved.

Whether your little ones see you vaping and want to know more, or are older and you’re worried about peer pressure at school, it’s good to talk. Here’s everything you need to know.

Kids and vaping – the facts

The good news is that children and young adults are smoking less than they used to. 

According to the NHS, 12% of children reported having ever smoked in 2021, a decrease from 16% in 2018.

A combination of Government health initiatives, people becoming more health-conscious, and smoking just becoming downright unfashionable have all played a part in fewer people smoking.

However, more kids are now vaping. 9% of 11 to 15-year-olds currently use e-cigarettes, an increase from 6% in 2018. And quite frankly, that’s terrifying.

So why is vaping more popular with children than ever before? While vapes aren’t marketed explicitly at kids, they do appeal to them. The bright colours, the affordability of disposable vapes, the sweet flavours. Some disposable vape manufacturers have even come under fire for targeting young people on Instagram and TikTok with influencer ads. We’re mentioning no names.

Think about the bright and funky alcopops that were popular with kids in the 1990s, the ones with the cartoon mascots. It’s precisely the same premise.

Is the Government going to ban kids from vaping?

While direct action hasn’t been taken yet, health campaigners are petitioning the Government to make it as hard as possible for children to buy disposable vapes.

For example, Ash has asked the Government to tax disposable vapes, effectively doubling the price. The Local Government Association is also asking for vaping packaging to mirror that of cigarettes and other tobacco products – plain packaging and kept out of sight behind the counter.

Some governments are looking at banning disposable vapes, making it harder for children to get into vaping. For example, the Irish Government is currently discussing a ban and countries including Mexico, India, and Cambodia have eliminated disposable vapes entirely.

We’ll keep you updated with the latest developments in regards to vaping and the law on our blog.

What’s the legal age for vaping in the UK?

The same age as smoking – 18.

It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy e-liquids, disposable vapes, or vaping hardware, or to get anyone over the age of 18 to buy for them.

Some people think it’s okay for 16-year-olds to vape if they have parental permission. This definitely isn’t the case, and you’d be laughed out of any reputable vape store for trying. 18 or bust.

Why do young people vape?

Most kids are inquisitive when it comes to vaping – over half admit to trying it out of curiosity. Looking at the stats, many teens will try a puff to see what it’s about, and that’s it – no more.

But why do some kids and teens keep up the habit? Some of the reasons include:


  1. They can do it as a social activity. Buy a vape, pass it around, and have a chat with their friends

  2. They can show off – one in five teen vapers admit to doing tricks like making big clouds 

  3. They can order online – just tick a box to say they’re over the age of 18, job done, no questions asked. Alternatively, many supermarkets and off-licenses don’t ask for ID

  4. It tastes nice. Why would a teenager suck on a disgusting wet cigarette when they can enjoy mint, sweet, fruit, or chocolate flavours?

  5. It’s cheap – they can buy a disposable vape for under a fiver. Compare and contrast, a twenty-pack of cigarettes costs about £11, and the cost is rising all the time

  6. It’s discreet – disposable vapes are slim and streamlined, meaning they can easily be hidden in a coat pocket or purse

  7. It’s an appetite suppressant. In a world where being ‘thin is in’, some teenagers, especially girls, are vaping to keep hunger at bay. Don’t get us started on this one

But isn’t vaping harmless?

Many kids think it’s okay to vape as it’s just water, vapour, and flavour.

While vape juice doesn’t contain carbon monoxide, tar, arsenic, and formaldehyde like cigarettes do, it does contain nicotine. Some disposable vape cartridges can contain 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine, with some illegal vapes containing even more.

Two out of three teens aren’t even aware that vapes contain nicotine. This is why education is so important. The more children know about vaping from an early age, the more information they have to make the right choice.

So while vaping is less harmful than smoking, it’s not as harmless as your teen may think it is.

How do I talk to my young kids about vaping?

Kids are nosy by nature. So if they see you or a close family member vaping, they’ll probably want to know why. Alternatively, they may see an advert for an e-cigarette and want to know what it is.

It’s important to know the context so you can start a conversation.

For example, if you walk past someone vaping and your little one asks a question, you can explain that they are vaping because they don’t want to smoke any more. This can be an excellent way to talk about people they know who vape, and why they do it.

Like all things in life, if we’re told something is naughty and forbidden, we want to do it even more. Have you ever seen a freshly painted wall and wanted to slam your hand on it? Same concept.

People who vape aren’t bad or evil or wrong in any way, and they shouldn’t be labelled as such. By taking the stigma away, you’re making it less tempting.

It might be that you’re trying to quit smoking and are using a vape to do this. Be honest with your kids and explain that you used to smoke, but want to quit so you can be around for them as long as possible.

By starting a positive conversation about vaping as early as possible, you’re starting your little ones on the right path. Plus, the more open you are at an early age, the more likely your kids will come to you with issues and concerns when they’re older.

Find out more about making the switch from smoking to vaping

How can I tell if my teenager is vaping?

With 9% of 11 to 15-year-olds vaping regularly, you’re probably keen to know if your teen is doing it too. Here are some of the things to look out for:


  • A change in behaviour, like hanging out with new friends or being more secretive
  • Weird smells. Vape pens come in a wide range of flavours, so if you find a sweet or fruity aroma follows your teen around, they might be vaping
  • Vaping can cause a dry mouth, so your teen might be drinking more liquids to compensate
  • You spot vaping debris, like discarded vape pods or old metal coils, in the bin or in their bedroom
  • Your teen has less money to spend on clothes, computer games, and going out with friends, as they’re spending their cash on vaping

Are teenagers that vape more likely to smoke?

Many people think that young people that vape will move on to smoking. While some anti-smoking and anti-vaping websites say that this is the case, the evidence is that while more children are vaping, fewer are smoking.

Remember that a kid that vapes because they like the sweet and fruity flavours probably won’t be willing to smoke a damp and grotty tobacco-flavoured cigarette.

Help! I’ve found a disposable vape in my kid’s bag. What do I do?

The first thing to do is to stay calm and not panic. This is not the time to barge into your teenager’s room, start a fight, and ban them from watching Netflix. While you might feel angry that they’ve betrayed your trust, doing this will only make things worse. You don’t want to push them away.

Talk to your teen and listen to them. Ask them open-ended questions – what led them to vaping? Which of their friends is doing it? When did they start doing it? Give them time to respond and show that you understand them. Remember, we were all young and dumb once upon a time.

Nobody knows your kid better than you do. Has something changed that might have caused them to vape? Are they hanging out with a new crowd of people, or have they been stressed at school?

Does vaping mean my kid is doing drugs?

Probably not. Many parents immediately jump to the conclusion that because their teen is vaping, they’re automatically vaping the harder stuff.

As a starting point, disposable vapes aren’t configurable, so they can’t be rigged to smoke anything except nicotine.

While drugs (like cannabis) can technically be vaped using the right hardware, most vaping devices can’t get to the high heat needed to vaporise them. So unless your teen has a high-tech contraption in their back pocket that would put Q to shame, you’re probably golden.

You can get CBD e-liquids. While young people under the age of 18 shouldn’t be vaping full-stop, it’s important to remember that CBD doesn’t contain THC, the compound in cannabis that gets you high. Plus, these e-liquids typically substitute non-addictive CBD in place of nicotine.

How can I help my teen stop vaping?

If your teenager is vaping and is looking to quit, give them your full support. While some young people can stop vaping cold turkey, others may need a little extra help, especially if they’ve got used to the nicotine in vapes.

Here are a few ways you can encourage your teen to stop vaping.


  • Help them understand their triggers and when they reach for their vape. For example, if they vape when they get stressed, teach them a few breathing exercises or get them to WhatsApp a friend
  • Exercise is a great way to help beat nicotine cravings – whether it’s a bike ride, run, or a team sport like basketball or football
  • Have lots of healthy snacks on standby so your teen has something to do with their hands instead of reaching for their vape. Alternatively, a fidget spinner can work well
  • Encourage your teen to distance themselves from people who persuade them to vape. After all, someone who tells you to do something you don’t want to do is not your friend
  • Prepare yourself. Nicotine withdrawal can lead to crankiness, trouble concentrating and anger. Yep, it’s like puberty all over again
  • If they’re struggling, book an appointment with your GP, who will be able to refer them to your local cessation service

In summary: Knowledge is power

We hope this article has given you some insight into the questions your kids might have about vaping, and how to respond in the best possible way.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about vaping which is making parents fearful. For example, many anti-vaping websites say it causes a condition called ‘popcorn lung’ – a disease where scar tissue builds up in the lungs. However, there have been no confirmed cases of popcorn lung linked to vaping.

As a company that sells e-liquids, you might think we’re being a little biased ourselves. We’ve tried to be as objective as possible when writing this guide. And yes, while we want people to buy our stuff, we only want to sell to adults that have chosen to vape because they want to quit smoking.

The important thing is to be open with your kids and encourage them to be comfortable talking to you about vaping. Listen to what they have to say, and if they say something you don’t want to hear, don’t get mad.

We know looking after kids is a minefield at the best of times, from the day you take them home, to the day they leave home for good. Don’t let issues like vaping get in the way of a good relationship.


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