How to talk to young people about vaping

Know the facts

The Vaping Facts website has easy to understand information about vaping, and the most up-to-date, relevant research about vaping and smoking in New Zealand. It is brought to you by the Ministry of Health and Te Hiringa Hauora/Health Promotion Agency.

Find the right moment

Take advantage of situations where you can talk about vaping. Opportunities may present themselves, for example when you:

  • see someone vaping
  • get information from school about vaping
  • see advertisements
  • walk past a vape shop
  • hear or read a media item on vaping.

Have conversations

Ask open ended questions. It shows you are interested in them, it helps them talk, express themselves, and figure stuff out, and it helps you know how to help them. Here are some examples of questions that you could adjust according to the situation, the age of the teen, and the relationship you have with them. 

Be patient and prepared to listen

Ask what they know about vaping, clear up any misconceptions they might have, and offer the information you read on the Vaping Facts website.

Talk about the different factors that might entice teens to try it, for example, wanting to fit in, curiosity, stress. Talk through, and practise together, effective ways to respond if they ever feel pressured to try it.

If your teen is vaping, try to understand why they are vaping by asking questions like “What do you enjoy about vaping?” Or “How does vaping make you feel?” Understanding this might help you to understand their needs and discuss other ways to meet those needs.

Convey your expectations

Let them know your understanding of the risks, but also why a person might vape. If your child is vaping or has vaped, find out why. Discuss options for dealing with the factors that motivated them to vape.

Share why you don’t want your child to vape. Talk about the risks of vaping and the negative impacts of nicotine addiction on their health, finances, and relationships.

Let them know you care about them and their health and wellbeing. The risks associated with long-term vaping are unknown. While vaping is less harmful than smoking it is unlikely to be totally harm free. Ideally, smokers who are vaping to quit should look to eventually stop vaping too. If your child isn’t a smoker wanting to quit, it is unwise for them to start vaping. Read about the risks of vaping.

Useful websites

The New Zealand Drug Foundation’s conversation planner is a useful guide for how to have supportive conversations with your child about substance use.

The New Zealand Police Managers’ Guild Trust website has some useful information on teen safety.


Louisa Woods is a New Zealand high school teacher and counsellor and a mother of three. She knows teenagers. She shares her advice on getting your teenage child to open up in this blog post.

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