So, we heard through the grapevine my 16-year-old might be vaping. We don't approve but because we didn't want to divulge our source, let it go. Today, he walked through the door carrying it in his hand not expecting me to be awake as I work nights and sleep days. I asked him what was in his hand and he went toward the trash and threw a few things in and claimed it was just junk from his pockets.

Of course, I dug it out and asked him about it. He claims it was something he bought as a gift for a friend but it was still warm from use. I asked if he thought his friend's parents would approve. He said they wouldn't.

I told him I wanted to hang onto it for a bit and discuss it with his mom. Between health concerns related to vaping, he's under age, plays sports and is a member of the National Honor society (both team and NHS would punish him if discovered). I want him to understand the implications in doing this. I recognize kids are going to screw up. I did. I'm hoping to mitigate it a bit. I also don't want to play it as though I don't care because then he'll think he can try other things as well.

What do I do?

  • 3
    Vape could mean anything. Is it a flavor vape? That means no nicotine, no thc, just flavors. I compare that to a soda, perhaps not the greatest for you, but absolutely fine in moderation.
    – user29403
    Aug 31, 2017 at 16:13
  • I had a few issues with my own parents growing up regarding addiction and other similar matters. It's important to be open here about your own vices, and to work out the why before criticising the what. We all turn to stimulants from time to time and nocotine (if that's what he's vaping) is just another one. I don't smoke but I drink a lot of tea (caffeine) at work and occasianally have a can of beer after work to relax.
    – Smeato
    Sep 1, 2017 at 12:08
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    @slowy I am not, nor have ever smoked cigarettes. I've vaped quite a bit though. Now I don't. Never had any pacifier effect, and none of my friends who also vaped experienced that either. I agree that anything can move to addiction. I disagree that vapes will do that more than, say, chocolate cake, or soda. The other substances in what I'm talking about are: Water (harmless), Vegetable Glycerine (harmless, it's in lots of things you already eat/drink), Propylene glycol (It's harmless imo, except allergies. A lot of brands don't have this though), Flavoring (I drink soda already).
    – user29403
    Sep 4, 2017 at 16:07
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    That's it. There are brands that have diacetyl and acetyl propionyl, which are not good. But that's usually nicotine vapes. None of the flavors I got had them in it. It is up to the OP to decide if it is a good BEHAVIOUR or not. However, If he thinks soda is fine, then he has to think vapes are fine, or take a stance saying science is wrong. If he thinks Soda is unhealthy, then Vapes are unhealthy. That's all I was saying.
    – user29403
    Sep 4, 2017 at 16:16
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    I quit vaping after one year of it and ughhhh - worst two weeks ever. The thing IS addictive and, while waaay less harmful than tobacco is not harmless. So, as an (ex?) vaper my advice would be to get "a bit mad": if you manage to have him having only this "vaping thing" as a transgression well you d be doing a great job of avoiding him having others and waaaay worse trasgressions... Sep 5, 2017 at 11:48

5 Answers 5


What do I do?

Number 1. Don't blow it up.

This will be hard to read for some, especially for some parents on the stricter side, but it's true. It's not that big of a deal. Of all the things your 16-year-old son could have gone to as a vice, he chose the safer alternative to actual cigarette smoking. Yes, he shouldn't be doing it because he is underage but it's not a controlled substance, it's not alcohol, it's vaping, a technology designed to make smoking just a little bit healthier (last time I checked, the verdict on that was still out though).

Number 2. Talk with him about it. Both of you!

Ask him questions like:

  • Why do you do it?
  • Do you enjoy it?
  • Does it make you feel better?
  • Do you feel like you need this because your life is stressful?
  • Do your friends do it?
  • Why did you feel the need to lie about it or hide it?
  • We would prefer you stop (if that's what you want) so what can we do to help you?
  • Are you taking precautions about the supplies you get?

It's easy to pass judgement quickly and to possibly overreact with lots of punishment but everyone has vice. Everyone has some way we cope with the stress in our life.

Number 3. Realize this doesn't define his character

Your son isn't "the vaper" now. Don't treat him as such. Treat him like the same kid before you knew about this issue. He's the athletic, NHS rockstar who happens to be dealing with a little minor issue that he needs to get through. You need to help him with it but ultimately it's his choice to quit or not.

When I quit smoking, it wasn't because of my parents urging. It wasn't because my friends asked me to stop. It wasn't the doctors telling me to. It was because I made an internal decision to say I want to be better. Your son has to make that same conclusion for himself.


Talk to him about keeping secrets. He shouldn't need to lie or hide it. This is for everyone in general who may read this question. I'm not accusing you specifically.

Foster an atmosphere of trust. If you want your children to talk to you about issues that you also dealt with when you were younger, show them that it's OK to ask questions. Allow them to screw up without berating them. Talk. Communicate.

Published study: Long-term vaping 'far safer than smoking' says 'landmark' study

  • 2
    I'd be wary of suggesting it is healthier than smoking... other than that, good answer.
    – Rory Alsop
    Aug 31, 2017 at 7:42
  • 2
    @RoryAlsop Source added Aug 31, 2017 at 10:21
  • Cool - thanks for that. It prevents that potentially biased argument for/against.
    – Rory Alsop
    Aug 31, 2017 at 10:28
  • This assumes it's a nicotine vaporizer. There are ones that take just flavored water.
    – user29403
    Aug 31, 2017 at 16:14
  • 1
    Your link is broken. Jan 10, 2019 at 20:59

Remind him of the downsides this can have for him. If he spends this much time playing sports it must mean a lot to him and he wouldn't want to get kicked off the team.

Ask him not to lie about these things again, make it something that can be discussed in the household. Kids are only going to be pulled towards forbidden things, keep it light.

You might also want to ask him what got him started. Is he possibly experiencing stress from school/work/sports? Did he just think it was cool? You might want to act upon this.


First and foremost, find out what he's vaping, specifically. Those vapes can be used to inhale just about anything, even solid plant matter. This means the difference between a superficial legal issue and a potentially serious health hazard. Best case scenario, it's a nicotine-free vegetable glycerin based e-juice.

NHS is great! Sounds like he's got great parents at home who guide him well. An unfortunate byproduct of having great parents is it can make some kids feel like they need to rebel to gain some sense of control of their lives. There's some good info here.

Some ideas...

If you're somewhat progressive, you might consider actually allowing him to vape, under certain conditions, eg only at home, only non-nicotine VG e-juice. This can accomplish several things:

  • Takes away the novelty of doing something rebellious.
  • Gives you peace of mind that he's not vaping something more dangerous (like nicotine or propylene glycol juices or an exotic crack cocaine/cyanide/herpes mixture)

If you're somewhat cynical, the 2017 version of making your kid smoke a carton of cigarettes is giving him high nicotine content juice. Why?

  • This will make him nauseous and hopefully turn him off vaping.
  • If you're sneaky, he'll feel like quitting was his own idea.
  • Nicotine is dangerous. If you go this route, have someone who knows what they're doing adjust the liquid. Many vape shops can do it.

Finally, if you want to do something truly outrageous and unexpected you could try speaking to him about it. Tell him what you told us. It was warm from use. It was opened (who opens a gift?), etc. There is enough evidence to charge him without divulging your witness.

  • Being open and direct is the best way to foster a healthy trusting relationship.
  • +1 for your first paragraph! I was going to write my own answer just to point that out.
    – user29403
    Aug 31, 2017 at 16:15

How about distracting him?

A little story for explanation

In punjab state of country India, the school and government tried something cool. They had drugs problem between students. Students taking drugs after school. What they did was, started football practice just after school and punjab being a sports active state, students automatically and slowly forgot about drugs and therefore problem solved.

I am saying confronting him can result into more of him hiding things. But you still can control him. Distract him with something he likes and learn about his friends and try to talk him into being with good friends only.

Kids these days like to be in trend and they might almost do anything to be in that stupid trend.

And I really like answer of jane saying to ask him about the source of origin


If you haven't taught him to not smoke, this might be a good time to point out that you don't approve - keeping in mind the fine suggestion to not blow it up. If you have taught him to not smoke then there must be an emotional impedus for him to do it with a corresponding justification.

The source for the emotion could be many things. Perhaps some of his friends have done it, or he's seen advertisements, and he feels like he just won't be whole without it. Maybe he's bought into the hype that it's cool. Maybe he feels like he needs to do it because he feels that rebelling is a nessisary part of growing up, to be manly, or to prove that he can make independent choices. Maybe he misses you because he doesn't get to spend time with you as much as would probably be ideal.

Try to figure that out so you can have more compassion.

Personally, I'd consider the justification to be more symptomatic, but it could reveal clues to why he's doing it.

Now, what to do? Teach him things that are true, things that you know are true in your gut. You don't have to brow beat him or even associate it with the smoking, but tell him those things so that he can hear what is real in life. Tell him you love him, and tell it to him again.

Again, you don't have to blow up, and chances are he's going to resist. When that happens take time out to regroup your thoughts, priorities, and beliefs. Then come back telling him what's real and true, how much you love him.

With that, find anything you like about him and tell him. Be careful you don't try that when your mad or else it will likely degrade into sarcastic types of remarks.

Just keep talking and be sure to love him in obvious ways.

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