If you have yet to read the previous post, you may want to do so now. If not, here is a one sentence recap: I found my 16 year old daughter vaping, and I wonder now about the statistical results of various surveys and how the numbers are perceived. You know, how does this change the view of my wife, her mother? Previous to this my wife was a very happy supporter of electronic cigarettes because of how they have changed my life. I was a multiple decade smoker who quit with electronic cigarettes as many. many other have.
I think this is a very interesting and right now conversation, how it turns out in the end might just change some viewpoints.
Much like many other people and families too, we have kids and a household to manage. The whole time we have to keep morale up, keep three kids from killing one another (or at least from hurting each other in reality), and try to keep the house running. Point is the last thing I wanted was to find my 16 year old (going to be 17 in one month) vaping in her room. It was a shock, even for me.. a vaper of two years who runs a damn electronic cigarette blog! So why am I so shocked after touting the benefits and various advantages of the product?
I guess you can say it is because she is my daughter. She is me. And although I know e-cigs are safe and I have put my body to the test for the last couple of years, she is still my daughter and if there is one small chance that she would be hurt I would want to keep her away from electronic cigarettes and electronic cigarettes away from her!
My wife was so shocked when she found our daughter she was speechless for at least around 5 minutes. She had no words even though, she too knew the safe record of the e-cig. She knows how they work and what they do, and even though she knows they are safe she is a mother and will worry no matter what her children do.
So there you have it. We are staring at each other at this point not knowing what to say and not really wanting to be the first to speak either. My wife just utters, “I can’t believe it”. Honestly, as bland as a description as that is it is the best fitting one. We were just confused. So we took some time and let it sink in. Once it finally did, about 20-30 minutes later we were able to talk about it. I suppose we had to let it all soak in for a bit.
The Past and Present
Think about what it used to be like. What kids back in the 60’s did and then keep going. Look at the 70’s and 80’s, are we starting to get to your generation yet? Keep going.. look at the 90’s and even the last decade and think about how much has changed with regards to tobacco over all of those years. From days in which it was considered so normal to smoke that if you didn’t people would wonder what was wrong with you. Then, take a look at what passed for the typical tobacco ad.
As you can see they were not ashamed to admit they smoked like most are today. It is not no longer a popular thing to be a smoker. There is a stigma that follows smokers today. Not like in the past. Which is why I brought this up. When a kid back then was considering trying tobacco they would have certain options or choices. This is regardless of their reasons for wanting to try smoking. But their options were to either smoke or not to smoke. I think it is obvious what the dangers or benefits are for both.
So in a way I suppose I should be happy that we live in a time where we know more about the world around us. I should be happy that when my children are faced with the same decisions that kids were faced with 30-50 years ago, they have plenty more options available to them. Trust me, this is a good thing. When a kid, like my daughter or any other, is faced with making a choice (don’t worry about the reasons for that choice yet) they have not only to smoke or to not smoke, but they also have the electronic cigarette.
Is the E-Cig a Valid “Choice” for Kids
I am trying my best to stay away from having a morality discussion with this, but it is hard. If you are reading this do me and yourself a favor and put morality out of your mind for a bit. That discussion will come at a later time – but we will have it.
Kids today are looking at the same choices that we and our parents were at their age. The biggest difference is our knowledge and our choices. We know much more about these things at the age of say 10-16 than kids 40 years ago did. So it is safe to assume that less kids are even in a spot to make such choices than ever before. I do not have any numbers to support that statement, but it sounds reasonable does it not?
But put into that spot kids today have the extra alternative of the electronic cigarette. I further think it is safe to say that having that as a choice will keep multiple kids from choosing tobacco-based products at all. But we also have to recognize that there are two very different groups of kids here. We have those who want to smoke and the choose either tobacco or e-cigs, then we have those who do not want to smoke at all, but choose e-cigs simply because it is a safe option and one that allows them to do what their friends are. I think it is obvious which group the advocacy groups are going to be using in their rants.
So now we have defined the two groups of kids who would be faced with the choices we are discussing. The choices are what we are focusing on here however so let’s stick with that. Whenever a “safer” alternative is placed in a group of choices, the person faced with said choices is in a better place than before, when that alternative was not available. Our kids are the ones making these choices so it is important that we pay close attention.
What are we Really Looking at Here
Overall I think most people would be happier if their kids were not even considering any of these options. Granted. However, when they are I would much rather them have the ability to make a positive choice or at least the best of those available. The electronic cigarette gives people the opportunity to have a safe way to do something they would have done anyway. This is a good argument and one that will continue to be used I’m sure.
So what is the alternative? Well, the flipside is for those who were not even considering taking up smoking. People, or should I say parents, are worried that their kids will start using e-cigs because now there is a way for them to “smoke” or to “do what their friends are doing” in a safe way. They are concerned that the simple fact that electronic cigarettes exist and the fact that they are a “safe way” to smoke, will entice their children to , “pick it up. Okay… I suppose I can see where that comes from at least, even if I do not agree – and here’s why.
To say it simply, if your kid is going to take up vaping because it is “there” and because it is a “safe way to smoke” then I think there are some different issues that need to be examined. Smoking is not the problem here. Seriously, think about it. If your kid, my kid, or anyone’s kid is going to pick up a habit or hobby because of and ONLY because their friends are doing it and now there is a “safe” way for them to do it as well (but they never wanted to smoke before) then the smoking is not the kids issue.
Right Back to the Front
So we have went through a bunch of information. We started talking about my daughter and how my wife and I had caught her vaping. Then I discussed the various choices available to kids through the various decades, finally landing on today and the options available presently. So thins brings us right back to the beginning of our story. We are still far from finished with this series.
At the present time it has been about 3 days since catching my daughter. My wife and I have essentially decided that at her age (going to be 17 in 29 days) there is only so much that we can really, tightly control. According to my daughter she vapes because, “me and my friends do smoke tricks and I just like it.”
It is hard for me to really accept it and I am still not sure why considering what I do. Still, I keep thinking that had this been twenty years ago she would be smoking tobacco cigarettes instead of the e-cigs. So my wife and I are lucky that we live when we do. We do not allow her to do it in front of us and right now that is just fine with me. Maybe my views on her doing it will change with time, I’m sure they will but just not right now. Out of the choices she had in front of her she chose correctly. Like I have said many times, I would much rather have her doing this than the alternative.
Note on this series: This is part 1 of an ongoing series about electronic cigarettes and my family entitled: Vaping in the Real World. There is much more information to come on both the subject matter and the people involved in the articles. Check daily for new posts.