Newswise — DALLAS – Feb. 12, 2019 – With new findings that show an unprecedented jump in nicotine-containing electronic cigarette usage among teens, many parents wonder how best to approach the topic.

“The important thing is to have a nonemotional action that has consequence for the using adolescent,” says psychiatrist Dr. David Atkinson, an addiction specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Action is more important than explanation, and emotion can actually be counterproductive. Parents should destroy the device the teen is vaping with, flush all of the nicotine that they have, and let their child know that will be their action in the future should it recur.”

Dr. Atkinson says that discovering bad behavior by your teen calls for an educative and strategic tact.

First, concerned parents need to educate themselves about vaping devices, which are easier to hide and can resemble computer flash drives.

“Parents should familiarize themselves with the packaging from pods and other nicotine tanks, and I believe that a teen’s cash flow should be watched carefully,” Dr. Atkinson says. “There’s also send-out tests for metabolites that detect whether they are vaping or smoking combustible [regular] cigarettes.”

This week, new data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 1 in 4 high school students and about 1 in 14 middle school students in 2018 had used a tobacco product in the past 30 days. This was a considerable increase from 2017, which was driven by an increase in e-cigarette use. E-cigarette use increased from 11.7 to 20.8 percent among high school students and from 3.3 to 4.9 percent among middle school students from 2017 to 2018.

A National Institutes of Health-supported study found that twice as many high school students used e-cigarettes last year compared with 2017, and 1 in every 5 participating seniors reported having vaped nicotine at least once in the previous month – the largest single-year increase in the University of Michigan-based survey’s 44-year history, surpassing a mid-1970s surge in marijuana smoking. The same report found that marijuana usage has largely remained level over the past few years and that more teens are saying “No” to many other illegal and harmful substances, including alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin, and opioid pills.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,500 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 105,000 hospitalized patients, nearly 370,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 3 million outpatient visits a year.