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Parents Less Aware When Their Kids Vape Than When They Smoke

UCSF Study Says Strict Household Rules Are Best Way to Prevent Tobacco Use

By UCSF.edu | October 5, 2020

Parents Less Aware When Their Kids Vape Than When They Smoke

Most parents know or suspect when their child smokes, but they are much more likely to be in the dark if the child vapes or uses other tobacco products, according to a large national study by researchers at UC San Francisco.

The study, which tracked more than 23,000 participants aged 12 to 17 years old, found that parents or guardians were substantially less likely to report knowing or suspecting that their child had used tobacco if the child used only e-cigarettes, non-cigarette combustible products or smokeless tobacco, compared to smoking cigarettes or using multiple tobacco products.

The researchers also found that when parents set strong household rules about not using tobacco – applying to all residents – their children were less likely to start tobacco use. Just talking to kids about not smoking was far less effective. The study published Oct. 4 in Pediatrics.   

“We know that tobacco-free homes are a key tool to help prevent smoking by kids,” said corresponding and senior author Benjamin Chaffee, DDS, MPH, PhD, an associate professor at the UCSF School of Dentistry. "What studies haven't examined is how tobacco-free homes stack up against other approaches and how much tobacco-free home rules might help with other tobacco products beyond smoking.

“Tobacco use by children is troubling, and dentists, like all healthcare providers, should be concerned about preventing youth tobacco use,” Chaffee said.

Over the last decade, the smoking landscape has dramatically changed, especially among youth, for whom cigarette smoking has declined while use of electronic cigarettes soared. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 1 in 4 high school students was vaping.  

Read more at UCSF.edu