What you should know…
E-cigarettes have been advertised as being a safe alternative to smoking regular cigarettes, but according to Anne Lawton, Community Outreach Nurse from St. Peter’s Hospital, ”safer doesn’t equal safe.”
Since 2011 vaping among teens has increased by 900% mostly due to the fact that e-cigarettes and vaping devices, such as the popular brand Juul, appeal to teens. The habit is marketed as a healthy alternative to smoking and is available in fun flavors like cotton candy, watermelon and cool mint. The devices are affordable, easily bought online and can be hidden in a shirt sleeve for inconspicuous use. Unlike smoking, there is not enough long term research to suggest that vaping is bad for you, so it is a socially acceptable product among young people. Unfortunately many of the chemicals in the vape juice have been linked to lung disease and thought they are safe as food flavoring, they have never been tested as inhalants.
“It is an epidemic,” said Lawton who is a Certified Tobacco Training Specialist and a Tobacco Cessation Facilitator, “we have seen an increase in coughing, asthma, and wheezing” because vaping simulates the cilia in the lungs which produces mucus.
Another harmful aspect of the e-cigarettes is that they also contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug that affects brain development in teenagers.
In an article written by Lawton she states, “Exposure to nicotine during the teen years, when a young person’s brain is still developing, can disrupt the brain circuits that control attention, learning, impulse control, and mood disorders, and can also increase the youth’s susceptibility to addiction.” Because the packaging of e-cigarettes is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) there is no way for the consumer to know how much of the drug they are getting. Studies show that one Juul cartridge has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.
Lawton visited Hoosick Falls Central School on Wednesday, March 20th and presented four informational session for students in grades 5-12. The sessions provided information about vaping, including some common misconceptions about the products. The presentations allowed time students to engage with Lawton and ask questions about vaping and e-cigarettes. The full presentation is available to view on the school’s website.
The assembly was scheduled due to requests made by teachers, specifically those of 9th graders, who had noticed a rise in the use of e-cigarettes among their students. The program provide information for teachers as well as students, giving them information that they can use to help reduce and eliminate vaping in school. The staff has also created a page on the HFCS website where information for parents, educators and teens about vaping is available. Additionally, posters have been hung around school with a number to text for teens who need help quitting. In the weeks to come the school will use social media platforms to educate students, parents and the wider community about dangers of vaping.
“It is important for parents and educators to understand the facts about vaping,” said Meaghan Keegan, HFCS Community Information Officer, “As a parent myself I realized how little I knew about e-cigarettes. The information that I have posted on the website will be beneficial to the community. It has helped me understand the potential health risks teens and young adults face and brought awareness to me about this growing industry that has targeted children as young as 11 or 12.”
For information, please visit www.hoosickfallscsd.org/vaping-what-you-should-know/ or look for posts on the school’s Facebook Page.