Workshops to inform parents about student vaping ‘epidemic’
Use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, has exploded among teens, so the Greater Latrobe School District is partnering with Breathe Pennsylvania to bring parents up to speed on the phenomenon officials say is putting students’ health at risk.
The Cranberry-based nonprofit that focuses on lung health awareness will present the workshop “Vaping: What Every Parent Needs To Know” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday in the Greater Latrobe Senior High Auditorium. The presentation is open to the public; registration is not required.
Topics will include: terminology associated with e-cigarettes; how the devices work; what they look like; how they can be concealed; how to help a child quit using a device; and signs of nicotine withdrawal.
A similar workshop, presented in conjunction with the Indiana County district attorney, will be held 7 to 8:30 p.m. March 27 in the Homer-Center High School Auditorium.
Vaping also may be referred to as JUULing, after a popular brand of e-cigarette.
“JUULing is something that we talk about a lot,” Greater Latrobe Superintendent Judith Swigart said “It’s something that our principals are dealing with in the buildings.
“There’s a lot of misinformation about what vaping, JUULing is. This event hopefully draws attention to this because it is something that’s extremely harmful to young people as well as adults.”
Spokesman Ted Kwong said JUUL Labs is “committed to preventing youth access of JUUL products, and no young person or non-nicotine user should ever try JUUL.”
The company suspended distribution of JUULpods in mango, fruit, creme and cucumber flavors to traditional retail stores as of Nov. 17. Kwong said it has strengthened an age-verification feature of its e-commerce site and is “developing new technology to further limit youth access and use.
“We strongly support raising the minimum purchase age for cigarettes, tobacco and vaping products to 21 in Pennsylvania. We look forward to working with lawmakers at the federal, state and local levels to achieve this end.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in every 20 middle school students in 2018 reported they’d used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days — an increase of more than 4 percent from 2011. Nearly one in five high school students reported using the devices — up by more than 19 percent from 2011.
In a 2017 Pennsylvania Youth Survey, about 30 percent of students in grades six to 12 indicated they had used nicotine in a vaping device.
“Teen perceptions of risks associated with using electronic cigarettes has decreased, and there’s a common belief that they are ‘safe’ — so much so e-cigarette use among youth has been declared an epidemic in the United States,” said Rebecca Kishlock, Breathe Pennsylvania’s director of tobacco cessation and education programs. “We want to have an open conversation with parents so that they, in turn, can have conversations with their children.”
The CDC considers e-cigarettes unsafe for kids, teens and young adults, noting most contain highly addictive nicotine, which can harm adolescent brain development. The devices can contain other harmful substances and, like second-hand smoke from traditional cigarettes, can subject those nearby to the aerosol a user exhales.
“The danger with the vaping is that students, anybody, can put anything that can be liquefied in the JUUL pods,” said Laurie Golobish, director of pupil services at Greater Latrobe. “If you think of any kind of harmful substance, if you can liquefy it, you can vape it. There are no long-term studies to know what this does.”
Greater Latrobe includes e-cigarettes among tobacco products banned from school property and school buses. According to district handbooks, students violating the policy may receive up to a three-day suspension for a first offense and up to a 10-day suspension for a subsequent offense.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .