"Honestly, he did not think there was something wrong," Kennedy said. "He told me that almost all seventh graders did it."
And she soon realized that the trend had affected many more children in her orbit: Kennedy, who owns a dance studio in northern California, discovered that most of her dancers had also tried to keep herself from falling into harm's way. steam. She learned that children were out of breath at school, puffing in their shirts and, in some cases, charging their e-cigarettes to their teacher's own computer, she explained.
Meanwhile, many parents seemed unaware.
Health experts say parents whose children are out of breath often do not know what to do or where to turn for help.
"He's everywhere in social media," said Kennedy, popular with star athletes in his community.
As a mother, she understood the role that peer pressure can play with fashions like electronic cigarettes. And as an athlete's mother – Ryder is passionate about football and basketball – Kennedy said that she knew she had to do something. So she asked a local company to print some t-shirts with a clear message: "Athletes do not vape." She did not know it would make her way.
"The kids' response has been what has upset my mind," Kennedy said.
Aussem says to the overworked parents first, "take a deep breath".
An important conversation
"I kept hearing the open window," said Berkman, a mother of four based in New York. "I realized that it was happening at home."
Experts fear that e-cigarettes will put children's developing brains at risk, make them addicted to nicotine early in life, and act as a gateway to smoking and other drugs – but the long-term effects do not are not clear.
"In many cases, parents do not know that their children are out of breath or do not know what's in the vape," Aussem said. "There are parents who know their kids are out of breath, but they assume it's harmless because they say to themselves," Oh, that's flavoring. " How can it be bad? ""
Experts also recommend that parents become familiar with the signs that their children might feel: if they notice a slight sweet scent, for example. Young e-cigs users can also show a mood change, take frequent breaks to take flushes and share publications on the vape on social media, according to experts.
"It was devastating for us," said Gould. "This is not a product for young people."
The company, which owns about 75% of the US e-cigarette market, also said that flavors were a useful tool to help adult smokers pass fuel-burning cigarettes.
Others have argued that there was no conclusive evidence in favor of this use of the flavors.
"It's happening in real time," she said.
What to watch for
When Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the Teen Addiction and Addiction Program at Boston Children's Hospital, began receiving phone calls from parents across the country describing the impact of e-cigarettes on their children: nicotine consumption, "she said.
"I was wondering if they were using other substances, were they also using marijuana or something else, or were they having mental health problems?" she says. "In fact, I've seen enough children in the area to understand that some of these presentations look like psychiatric presentations."
Some of these teens come with anxiety, distraction, headaches and stomach upset, symptoms that Levy said to be rarely seen with traditional cigarettes. In children, nicotine addiction can be very different from that of adults, she added.
According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, other symptoms may include increased thirst, nosebleeds, and mood changes.
Levy said that "almost all" teens in her program already had some e-cigarette experience, but "the novelty is that we are now seeing patients in the addiction treatment program whose only substance is nicotine."
"Children often have problems with that, and they just do not have a lot of resources," said Levy, adding that many addiction treatment programs may not have been equipped to take care of some of the youngest nicotine dependent children. It would be much better to ensure that primary care physicians are equipped to work with children in their own communities, Levy said.
Some parents have used nicotine gums and other smoking cessation tools for their children under the supervision of a doctor. Levy said this could be tricky, as some children might use these products as a "bridge" between vows and tobacco products.
Medications may be important in some advanced cases, but they are not enough, said Levy; children also need "good, solid advice".
"We end up having to teach kids to manage their cravings, identify high-risk situations and be surrounded by people who use these products," Levy said. "Because the reality is that, for most kids, we treat them and give them back to school, then they go to the bathroom, and everyone is on Juing."
Aussem said that parents can also use positive reinforcement to offer their children something "more interesting for them than vaping", and that they can impose negative consequences. But it's important to follow, she added. For example, many parents may threaten to take their children's phones with them, but return them a few days later because it is difficult to reach them.
For many parents, she said, it is important to understand that there may be no quick fix.
Aussem said: "The important thing is to think about the following question: how will I intervene and be prepared to see this as a trip?" "