As the effects of vaping on our health have become too detrimental to ignore, and teen vaping has surged to 1 in 4 high school students, Health Canada officially declares youth vaping a public health crisis. What was intended to be a healthier and safer way of weaning seasoned cigarette smokers off nicotine, has turned out to be a growing trend among youth that is anything but safe or healthy.
In last week’s episode of Context, we looked into the dangers of vaping, edibles and marijuana on teenage brain development and asked the experts what we can do about it.
Dr. Martin Kolb MD, Ph.D. Professor, Division of Respirology, Department of Medicine at McMaster University, confirmed Context viewers’ worst fear about vaping when I asked, “What is vaping?”
“It’s a difficult question,” Dr. Kolb said. “We don’t really know what it is. The constitution of the solutions is not standardized. You’re inhaling things that you don’t even know what they are and what they do. So many unfortunate young people are dying of it. It’s not less harmful than cigarette smoking – it is harmful.”
Although there is evidence to support vaping as a smoking cessation aid for seasoned smokers, the major problem is the marketing strategy. “Vaping targets youth, not seasoned smokers,” Kolb warns.
How can parents prevent their children from abusing and using drugs?
To answer this question, I called on Chantal Vallerand, Executive Director of Drug-Free Kids Canada, a non-profit organization that aims to support parents to prevent substance abuse by youth. Chantal shared communication tactics you can adopt with your kids as early as eight years old.
“90% of addiction can be routed back to the teenage years. No experimentation means no addictions, ever,” Vallerand said.
“The best prevention tool is to engage in an ongoing dialogue with your kids on substance abuse.” Vallerand suggested approaching the topic from a curiosity standpoint with phrases like, “Now that cannabis is legalized, and it’s part of our society, let’s talk about it.” She also emphasized the importance of looking at the facts on brain development effects. “It is important to equip kids with the information before they are put in a situation where they are faced with having to make a decision.”
Irresistible edibles + delayed effects = high risk.
Edibles, once only available on the black market, are now for sale across Canada. Psychotherapist, Sean Grover, identified lack of portion control as the biggest risk factor among youth. Unlike smoking marijuana, which produces effects within 30 minutes, he explained the effects of pot edibles can take up to an hour or longer to be felt, so the tendency is to consume more.
Much to Chantal’s point, Grover emphasizes the importance of dialogue and not condemnation. “If you lay down the law, you’re just going to have a child who develops better skills at lying. They will not feel safe exposing things that they feel vulnerable about, so starting a dialogue is key.”
Can Christians smoke pot?
Mark Ward co-author of Can I Smoke Pot, Marijuana in Light of Scripture, warns, “The good gifts that we have been given in creation have been perverted and twisted. Uranium is a good thing, it’s in creation, but you don’t sprinkle it on your ice cream. Just because God made something, it doesn’t mean you put it in your mouth.”
I’ve seen the lives of people I love take tragic detours as a result of vaping and edibles. In my books, this is all a somber call to beware. We give ourselves a lot of freedoms, but we need to be aware of the Godly wisdom that goes along with freedom too.
Now it’s your turn to learn and protect, and to dialogue with your vulnerable youth. To help you get started, we’ve put all of the resources and information from our guests HERE.
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