Vaping is growing in popularity among kids, and it’s not safe, health officials say
“Vape juice” can contain nicotine, THC or any drug that can be distilled into a liquid form.
Teens who vape are four times more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes a year later
New product on the market: “JUUL” has made discreet vaping a massive trend among youth and young adults.
What to do
Talk to your kids: Don’t try to do it all at once. Like most discussions with the average teen, it might take place in bite-sized pieces over a longer period.
Get up to speed: The Surgeon General has some solid resources available about vaping, including a question-and-answer walk through, conversation prompts and tips specific for parents.
EAGLE — Vaping does not need to spark parental hysteria, but parents will soon have to deal with it, if they’re not already, say public health officials.
“The local bubble has burst, and it’s here. It’s already around most of the state,” said Mandy Ivanov, Eagle County Public Health’s healthy systems coordinator.
It’s shocking a lot of parents. It shouldn’t, Ivanov said.
“It might be regular rebellious behavior. With the ease of getting it online, kids can figure out how to get what they’re after,” Ivanov said.
What is it?
Like almost any other industry, vaping devices were initially manufactured and marketed by small startups. Those quickly consolidated. The U.S. Surgeon General reports that big tobacco companies — Phillip Morris, Lorillard and Reynolds American, Altria — acquired many of those startups and now control most of the vaping industry.
“Everyone has a vaping device they’re marketing. They’re throwing billions of dollars at this,” Ivanov said.
The National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse defines an electronic cigarette or e-cigarette as a handheld electronic device that tries to create the feeling of tobacco smoking. It works by heating a liquid to generate an aerosol, commonly called a “vapor,” that the user inhales.
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling that vapor. Vaping devices include not just e-cigarettes, but also vape pens and advanced personal vaporizers.
Vape liquids are marketed in three basic categories:
1. Flavors, up to and including cotton candy.
2. Some liquids contain nicotine.
3. Other liquids have THC, the psychogenic chemical in marijuana.
Not only do the liquids come in all sorts of forms, so do the vape pens. The Juul, pronounced “jewel,” looks very similar to a USB device.
“It’s very discreet and easy to hide,” Ivanov said.
The contents are not discreet.
“On their own website, they say it comes with the nicotine equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes,” she said.
Not just water vapor
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assert that the cloud you’re inhaling and exhaling is not just harmless water vapor. That cloud contains heavy metals, cancer-causing chemicals and particulates, in addition to nicotine or possibly THC.
“Some research is beginning to show some of the same effects as second-hand cigarette smoke,” Ivanov said.
Helping families fight
Candace Eves is a prevention specialist with Eagle County Schools. She is on the front lines as they take their fight to families with a January series of free Eat Chat Parent sessions to help provide families with information and support.
Eves and others are researching, creating and implementing programs to dovetail with efforts that have been in some local schools for years, such as the Eagle River Youth Coalition’s Project Alert.
“That’s a nicotine vaping lesson that we have now identified can be geared toward marijuana, as well,” Eves said.
Project Alert is already in Eagle Valley Middle School, Battle Mountain High School, both campuses of Red Canyon High School, Red Hill Elementary School and Berry Creek Middle School. It is scheduled to launch in four other schools in the upcoming spring semester, Eves said.
“There are two issues we are seeing here in Eagle County. Vaping is on the rise, and vaping as a way to deliver marijuana is growing in popularity, particularly with kids,” Ivanov said.
Healthy Kids Colorado asserts in a 2015 survey that 30 percent of Eagle County middle school and high school kids reported vaping in the previous week — well above the 21 percent statewide.
“There’s kind of a cloud around it all,” Ivanov said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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