Tag Archives: Vaping

Schools Seek Ways to Curb Vaping Among Students

Tawnell D. Hobbs, The Wall Street Journal: January 6, 2020


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An estimated 5.4 million middle- and high-school students in the U.S. recently used e-cigarettes, a vaping device, according to a federal survey released in December. That is 20% of all students, far more than the 4.3% that used cigarettes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,561 cases of hospitalizations for lung injury involving e-cigarettes, and 55 deaths, as of Dec. 27. The majority of cases are linked to products containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

School administrators say vaping is more challenging to tackle on campus than regular cigarettes. Vape devices are typically battery-powered and made to look like everyday items, such as pens, lipstick cases and USB drives.

They come in child-friendly flavors, from bubble gum to strawberry cheesecake, and have pleasant smells. Students can take quick whiffs undetected while sitting in class or walking down a hallway, with exhaled vapor dissolving quickly into the air or held in to be absorbed, unlike lingering smoke from lit cigarettes.

School resource officers in Chico, Calif., use 18-years-olds, under the nicotine purchasing age of 21, as decoys to bust businesses selling tobacco products used for vaping; officials said eight clerks have been cited. The officers also allow students to trade vape devices for coupons for pizza and smoothies, with no questions asked. In four weeks, about 50 vapes were turned in, said Sgt. Greg Rogers.

“We’re just trying something different,” Sgt. Rogers said. “We wanted it to not be punitive.”

Jupiter Community High School in Palm Beach County, Fla., in October banned students from using the restroom during class periods unless for emergencies and with an administrative escort. The rule has since been lifted.

“Parents were frustrated with the fact that their children weren’t just allowed to go to the restroom,” said June Eassa, a Palm Beach school assistant superintendent.

Plainwell Community Schools in Michigan is starting random nicotine testing of high-school students in extracurricular activities in January. Students testing positive are restricted in participating in their activity.

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Juul Labs said that it has suspended broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the U.S. “We are focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use,” the company said.

According to Juul’s website, “one 5% strength JUUL pod is designed to replace one pack of cigarettes in nicotine strength,” and saves money.

Researchers are concerned that there doesn’t seem to be a standard of what should be a normal vape dose, leaving students to grossly overuse the product.

“There’s a certain understanding that you don’t smoke more than a pack a day,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research. “With vaping, because it’s new and because all these products vary, there aren’t the sorts of standards that help people restrict what they’re doing.”

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Not Just Blowing Water — Vaping Presentation Will Sort Myth and Reality


“We keep calling it vaping, and calling it vapor,” Amy Osterman said. “But it’s an aerosol. It’s more like hairspray.”

That’s an image Osterman, youth marijuana and tobacco prevention coordinator for Walla Walla County’s Department of Community Health, likes to share with parents and teens.

Osterman is one of a trio of specialists presenting a vaping prevention and education night for parents and young adults on Monday.

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Vaping, for anyone who has somehow missed all the talk, is equated with the electronic cigarette trend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a host of names are affiliated with the subject, including vape pens, vapes, tank systems and e-hookahs.

At their core, e-cigs produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine — the addictive drug in traditional cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products — plus flavorings and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol.

Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs, but bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air, according to the CDC.

Vaping is not safe for teens, kids and young adults, the federal agency has decreed.

School districts nationwide have been caught flat-footed and struggle to banish vaping on campuses, said Diana Zuckerman, author and president of the National Center for Health Research.

The devices used can be as small as a USB drive or a pen. Since there is no smoke, vaping at school can be virtually undetectable, Osterman said.

“That’s one of the challenges.”

Data is showing 31% of the teens who vape have transitioned to smoking regular cigarettes within six months, Zuckerman recently said in a session for education journalists.

CDC officials have been on the front lines of a sweeping, multi-state outbreak of lung injury associated with vaping.

As of Nov. 20, nearly 3,000 cases of e-cigarette, or vaping-associated lung injuries have been reported to CDC from 49 states (Alaska has not reported any cases), Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Forty-seven deaths have been confirmed, two of those in Oregon, and more are being investigated.

According to the CDC, analysis of fluid samples collected from the lungs of patients with e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury identified vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing vaping fluid.

Recent CDC laboratory test results of lung fluid samples from 29 patients from 10 states found vitamin E acetate in all of the samples, THC in 82% of the samples and nicotine in 62% of the samples.

Officials have said these findings are the first time they have detected a chemical of concern in biological samples from patients with these lung injuries, and that the latest national and state findings suggest THC-containing vaping products — particularly from informal sources like friends, family or dealers online or in-person — are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak.

Those being hospitalized are often normally healthy kids, Zuckerman said, including the high school athletes “who will never be able to play their sport again.”

Even with awareness rising, 66% of teens believe vape fluid is simply flavoring, she said.

“We know (traditional) smoking is dangerous, but that’s 20, 30, 40 years down the road. But vaping is hospitalizing kids. It’s an unprecedented epidemic.”

Osterman agrees, noting Washington’s number of kids using vape products lines up with national rates. On the most recent Healthy Youth Survey taken by Washington’s Department of Health, 21% of 10th-graders and 30% of 12th-graders reporting vaping in the 30 days prior to the survey.

“Youth of all kinds are vaping. It’s not the troubled kids, but the kids on the honor roll at Wa-Hi,” she said.

Her department works with schools across the county, and none are immune to this issue.

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How Minnesota Schools are Doubling Down on Anti-vaping Efforts

Erin Hinrichs, MinnPost: December 2, 2019


As teen vaping rates continue to rise, Minnesota educators are monitoring their classrooms and hallways for well-disguised vaping devices.

Some are shaped like USB flash drives that students can charge by plugging them in to their laptop. Others double as pens and highlighters. Some are even less conspicuous: shaped like a smart watch, an ID badge attachment and even a replacement hoodie string.

What started out as a fad marketed to youth as a safer, healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes has ballooned into a health epidemic that public health officials and politicians are scrambling to rein in. As of Nov. 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 2,290 injuries and 47 deaths have been reported as a result of using e-cigarette or vaping products. Teens and young adults make up the bulk of those vaping-related hospitalizations resulting from serious lung damage, says Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research.

“I just want to emphasize how serious this is,” she told education reporters during a recent webinar hosted by the Education Writers Association. “When we think about smoking, we know it’s dangerous 20, 30, 40 years down the road. The fact that we already have so many kids hospitalized from vaping is just an unprecedented kind of epidemic.”

Armed with this new health information, administrators and educators at many metro area schools are doubling down on their anti-vaping efforts. While the bulk of their focus remains on getting information to students and parents, many are expanding the scope of their educational outreach and shifting from a punitive disciplinary approach to one that takes a more holistic approach.

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A less punitive approach

Likewise, in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district, health staff are looking at ways to build out a more holistic approach to dealing with vaping in schools — a less punitive approach that’s better fit to address any related mental health issues.

Deb Mehr, the district’s health services coordinator, says the district recently received a grant from the county that will be used to accomplish two key things: add vaping information to the curriculum and support diversion efforts that keeps kids in school and connect them with resources to make healthier decisions.

Addressing misperceptions about the health risks associated with vaping, she says, are paramount. And it’s hard to have engaging conversations with youth when they’re too fearful of disciplinary action to seek information or help.

Her sense of urgency around addressing vaping is spurred by two recent seizure episodes at two different school sites — once this year and once last year. In other instances, she’s found students who’ve been vaping experience very high blood pressure and pulse rates.

“I think part of the problem is kids don’t know what they’re vaping,” she said.

Health officials have linked recent vaping-related lung injuries to THC and vitamin E oil, mostly found in illegal vaping products. But even legal ingredients — like nicotine and formaldehyde — are “potential carcinogens and very toxic” says Zuckerman. And manufacturers aren’t required to list all of the ingredients, since they’re considered trade secrets.

Along these lines, teaching students to be more critical consumers is key to keeping them safe, says Leslie Stunkard, a licensed drug and alcohol counselor in the Minneapolis Public Schools district.

With more than 70 schools districtwide, she says the push from her team has really been to teach students, especially the older ones, to be “skeptical about the advertising they hear.” She likes to point out how these companies are trying to market themselves as a good thing — by offering scholarships and even selling vitamins.

Offering another example of how educators in her district are getting students to think more critically about vaping, she says a science teacher at Washburn High School has created a lesson on vaping that explains the how even the name “vaping” is deceiving.

“I think one of the things that slowed us down a bit is the staff are learning — just as we and the students are learning — just how dangerous it is,” she said.

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