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Young people may be exposed to e-cigarettes (“vapes”) via friends, social media, or other sources. Ongoing open, honest communication with your child is really important to help educate them, prevent harms, and assist them in navigating new experiences and challenges.

While there is no foolproof way to have a conversation about vaping with your child, we’ve put together this article to help guide you.

Prepare for the conversation:

Before anything else, it’s important to gather information to make sure you’re informed about what vapes are, the risks involved, and relevant laws in your area. Equip yourself with facts from reliable sources such as research institutions and dedicated organisations such as Positive Choices.

Here are some resources to help you prepare:

It can be helpful to have these resources on hand during the conversation to look through with your teenager, as they may be more receptive to information coming from a credible source. The video listed above is a good option for this, too.

Next, consider the types of questions your child might ask you, and how you might go about answering them. This will help prepare you to confidently address their questions. Some examples could be:

  • What’s wrong with e-cigarettes? / Why don’t you want me to vape?
  • What’s the big deal? Aren’t they safer than traditional cigarettes?
  • Aren’t vapes just water vapour and flavouring?

Starting the conversation:

Find the right moment. This could be on a walk, after seeing someone vaping, or something relevant in the media. When you’re ready to have the conversation, it’s important to approach it from a non-judgemental place. Really listen to them in order to understand things from their perspective. Create a safe, relaxed space for open conversation, and avoid using scare-tactics, as these aren’t effective. Remember the goal is to have a two-way conversation, not give a lecture.

There are a lot of misconceptions around vaping. It’s a good idea to address these, and correct them. See some examples below:

You can also use these as talking points to open up the conversation. For example, you could ask them questions such as:

  • What do you think about vaping? (then direct to resources listed above)
  • Are you aware of the risks of vaping?
  • Do you know what chemicals are in vapes?
  • How many young people do you think vape? (find some stats here)
  • What would you say if someone offered you a vape?

Remember to set clear and consistent boundaries and expectations about the use of vapes with your child. Explain why you don’t want them to vape and express your concerns for the impact on their health and wellbeing.

Next, you can practise refusal skills and discuss peer pressure. Your child may not have been involved in a situation where they’ve had to refuse vapes or other substances. Therefore, they may not know what to expect, or be equipped with the skills and dialogue around how to confidently say ‘no’ in that situation. Practicing in a safe, supportive space can effectively prepare them for such situations. As part of this conversation, it’s helpful to discuss peer pressure and devise strategies for handling it.

Some resources:

Lastly, if you’re concerned, you can seek professional help through services such as:

  • A GP
  • Psychologist or counsellor
  • Quitline
  • Kids Helpline (5-25 years): 1800 551 800


If you think that your teen is vaping:

Set aside time to talk in a calm, comfortable environment, and employ the same non-judgmental approach to the conversation mentioned above. You could also go for a walk and talk to make it less formal and take off the pressure.

Remember to stay calm and listen to their perspective without making assumptions, shaming, or being confrontational.

Allowing your child to express their feelings and experience is important in order to gain an understanding of why they vape, so you can problem solve together and deal with the cause of the issue.

Use open-ended questions and allow them to talk and express themselves. Some examples of questions you could ask are:

  • What do you enjoy about vaping?
  • How does vaping make you feel?
  • What do you dislike about vaping?

If they’re anxious, nervous, or avoidant, you can try asking:

  • What do you wish was different?
  • How can I help you when you feel this way?

Talk about and encourage healthy alternatives, such as hobbies and sports. You can brainstorm together:

  • Identify triggers (e.g., stress, seeing a vape or someone vaping)
  • Develop refusal skills. Practice a response: e.g., “No thank you, I don’t vape,” and an action, e.g., having a breath mint or chewing gum.
  • Reflect on vaping patterns. Identify routines or scenarios associated with vaping, and aim to replace with another healthier behaviour such as exercising, listening to a podcast, or chatting with a friend.

You can also check out this video for methods of approaching conversations with teens to motivate change concerning drug use: Making the Link: How to approach conversations with teenagers.

Throughout these conversation it is important to express your love and support, and make it clear that you’re always there to talk. These kinds of conversations are ongoing, and it can take time for your teenager to process what has been said.

Education is key but don’t be afraid to seek additional help and support if you’re worried about a young person vaping.



Talking to your child about e-cigarettes/vaping. (2024, February 8). From Positive Choices website:

Webinar: A school-based approach to vaping prevention – T. (2024, February 21). Retrieved February 29, 2024, from Positive Choices website:


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