PP_N!

Throughout time, there has always been something kids in school are compelled to try. It is usually things like drugs, tobacco or alcohol, but now, in today’s world, another thing has been added, it is called vaping.

Everyone has heard of vaping, but if you are one of the few who has not, vaping, in a nutshell, is using some sort of a device that heats up liquid, which in turn creates a vapor cloud that the user inhales.

The liquid is usually made up of a mixture of nicotine in a liquid form, some chemical flavorings and other substances, including toxins like heavy metals. 

Within the last few years, vaping has taken on a life of its own, becoming increasingly popular with adults and now, it is the “thing” for kids in school to try.

“We have discovered after having some conversations with students some anecdotal figures regarding the number of kids vaping. Those students are saying that between 50 and 70 percent of the high school students have either tried vaping or are still using it,” said Tres Genger, Cut Bank High School Principal.

While some of those students are using it every now and then, many are vaping at least once a day or worse yet, multiple times a day.  

And it is not just high school students that are vaping. Jere Mayfield, the Technology Coordinator for Cut Bank High School and Middle School, said, “We have caught middle school kids with vaping items, some as young as sixth graders that we know for sure have been vaping and possibly as far down as some fourth graders too. The younger ones are watching parents, their peers or older siblings and thinking they want to try it too.”

The draw to the students, of all ages, is the flavorings used to not only disguise it as a form of smoking, but which are also used to make the nicotine taste so good.

“It is candy to the kids,” Mayfield said. “The flavors these companies are using is what attracts the kids to this.”

The flavors have a very distinct smell that is much more intense than say, a normal strawberry smell for lotion or candy. But it is the nicotine in every puff that keeps the kids coming back for more and more.

“Nicotine is nicotine is nicotine. It is an addictive substance and once you are hooked and start using all the time, the companies making this stuff, have a new customer,” Genger said.

Computer USB ports are a perfect example of ways the liquid form of nicotine can be stored and used in a vaping device. That port, plugged into a device that will heat it and then turn it into a vapor that the user inhales, can contain the same amount of nicotine as found in three packs of cigarettes.

“A lot of the kids are unaware of the risks they are taking when they start vaping. A lot of our staff was not only unaware of the risks too, but they were also unaware of the items being used for vaping,” Genger said. 

He continued, “There has not been enough research done to show kids or adults what the long-term effects are of vaping and many just don’t want to see the risks involved. They like it because it tastes good and smells good and beyond that, many choose to ignore the health risks.”

Here are 10 facts for you to consider. 

1. Genger is right, there has not been enough research done to provide information on long-term effects. What they do know is that vaping contains certain carcinogens which are not only dangerous, but possibly deadly substances.

2. Vaping is not just water. The “juice” producing the vapor contains harmful toxins and of course, nicotine. 

3. Just as smoking is linked to a variety of other diseases, experts say vaping will be too. One of those that has already surfaced is called “popcorn lung.” If you vape frequently, this is a reality for you and could be a fatal one, thanks to the chemical called diacetyl. Diacetyl used in high concentrations, has been linked to lung disease. Popcorn lung is a serious and irreversible condition in which the tiny air sacs in the lungs become scarred and constricted, resulting in no air movement in the lungs.

4. Do not believe anyone who tells you that vaping does not contain nicotine. It does contain nicotine and the amounts vary.

5. Many people are of the misconception that if they vape, they won’t be tempted to do other drugs. Such is not the case. In numerous studies, it became increasingly obvious that vaping led to cigarette smoking, thanks to the transition from vape pens to cigarettes being an easy one.

6. Vaping products are not FDA- approved. There are only a few regulations in place for vape manufacturers, many of those having come about just recently. However, there is no regulation on how the vape producers can market their products. That explains why they are using candy flavors and other popular flavors to entice children and teens into that market.

7. All vape products are not the same. Because of the limited regulations, companies producing vaping products can filter whatever they want into the products and as much as they want. That makes the product dangerous all by itself as you have no idea what is really in the product you are using when you vape.

8. Some people think the aerosol coming from the vaping products is safe. Sadly, another misconception as there is no way to know the long-term effects of nicotine in an aerosol form.

9. In September of this year, it was determined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there have been 450 possible cases of lung illnesses from vaping and there are six confirmed deaths in the United States directly linked to vaping. With vaping usage on the rise, it is a given those numbers will also rise.

10. The chemicals found in the vapor of e-cigarettes have been linked to a number of cancers. And vaping can cause lung irritation, infection in airways, circulatory problems and increased blood pressure and heart rate.

There are a lot of known facts about vaping, even though it is considered a fairly new vice. But like smoking, more facts will surface over time, proving vaping is not a healthy option for anyone, including teenagers.

“Vaping is not as overt as smoking,” Genger said. “You don’t see a cloud of smoke and smell the smoke from someone who is vaping. And the kids are finding ways to hide the vaping items. You can’t really do that with a cigarette.”

Obtaining the vaping paraphernalia the kids are using is very easy and is available in so many places and in so many forms, which is another reason this new craze is very scary. 

“Kids can get a hold of this stuff anywhere on the Internet. All you have to do is check the box that says you are 18 years of age, even if you are only 15 and you can order it online,” Mayfield said. 

Mayfield checked out a Google website by entering vape starter kits and everything anyone could possibly want to start this dangerous habit, was listed right on this site. You load your personal information, provide a credit card number and an address where it should be shipped, check the box that says you are 18 and within a few days, you have your very own vape starter kit. It is that easy.

“At the top of the vape starter kit site, it shows how many people have tapped into it and this particular one had 120,000,000 hits in less than one minute,” she said. 

Along with vaping “equipment,” you can also purchase “vape-wear.” From that site you can purchase hoodies, backpacks and other gear that come ready made to vape. The strings on a hoodie for instance can become a vape delivery system by attaching to your favorite vape pen.

That site had over nine million hits in less than a minute.

Terrified? We all should be!

These facts, figures and the reality that vaping is alive and well in our schools right here in Cut Bank is indeed frightening. But the good news, the administration, staff, teachers and even some of the students are getting on board and trying to educate everyone, students and staff alike, about vaping hazards. 

“There is no way legislation is going to curb the rise in vaping. Prohibition did not stop drinking. People just found other ways to get alcohol. Kids are going to do the same,” Genger said. 

That does not mean all hope is lost in the school system.

“We are working on educating not only the students, but the staff and hopefully, the parents too, on the risks of vaping,” Genger said. “I am also hoping that vaping will become something like tobacco and will be cyclical and eventually not what it is now. Until then, we will continue finding ways to educate everyone on the risks of vaping.”

One way is to use a some already established classroom time. 

“Our three health and physical education teachers in the high school and middle school, are pushing lots of information on vaping,” said Mayfield. “Teenagers think they are invincible. We hope with this education, we can show them otherwise.”

During recent Parent Teacher Conferences, parents were encouraged to check out a display board called “Hidden in Plain Sight.” 

Mayfield said this was an education experience for parents that allowed them to walk through a typical teenage bedroom and try to identify the 33 drug paraphernalia items located in the room.

“It offers adults an insight into current trends in youth substance abuse, drug paraphernalia and concealment of illicit drugs and alcohol. You can practice your observation skills at this link, http://powertotheparent.org/be-aware/hidden-in-plain-sight/,” she said.

Also, during the last few days, several different vignettes were available for viewing by students and staff, providing even more information on vaping and putting it in a context appealing to the kids.

“We can do a lot of educational things here, but the real education starts at home with the parents and we are encouraging parents to talk to their kids about the risks, the dangers and the reasons they shouldn’t vape,” Genger said. “We want everyone to hear what is happening with this and we want them to know it is important.”

It is important. Vaping is dangerous and potentially deadly. Students need to know. Teachers need to know as do parents. Become part of the education process and who knows, you might get someone to put down their vaping pen, for good.

Here are 10 facts for you to consider. 

1. Genger is right, there has not been enough research done to provide information on long-term effects. What they do know is that vaping contains certain carcinogens which are not only dangerous, but possibly deadly substances.

2. Vaping is not just water. The “juice” producing the vapor contains harmful toxins and of course, nicotine. 

3. Just as smoking is linked to a variety of other diseases, experts say vaping will be too. One of those that has already surfaced is called “popcorn lung.” If you vape frequently, this is a reality for you and could be a fatal one, thanks to the chemical called diacetyl. Diacetyl used in high concentrations, has been linked to lung disease. Popcorn lung is a serious and irreversible condition in which the tiny air sacs in the lungs become scarred and constricted, resulting in no air movement in the lungs.

4. Do not believe anyone who tells you that vaping does not contain nicotine. It does contain nicotine and the amounts vary.

5. Many people are of the misconception that if they vape, they won’t be tempted to do other drugs. Such is not the case. In numerous studies, it became increasingly obvious that vaping led to cigarette smoking, thanks to the transition from vape pens to cigarettes being an easy one.

6. Vaping products are not FDA- approved. There are only a few regulations in place for vape manufacturers, many of those having come about just recently. However, there is no regulation on how the vape producers can market their products. That explains why they are using candy flavors and other popular flavors to entice children and teens into that market.

7. All vape products are not the same. Because of the limited regulations, companies producing vaping products can filter whatever they want into the products and as much as they want. That makes the product dangerous all by itself as you have no idea what is really in the product you are using when you vape.

8. Some people think the aerosol coming from the vaping products is safe. Sadly, another misconception as there is no way to know the long-term effects of nicotine in an aerosol form.

9. In September of this year, it was determined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there have been 450 possible cases of lung illnesses from vaping and there are six confirmed deaths in the United States directly linked to vaping. With vaping usage on the rise, it is a given those numbers will also rise.

10. The chemicals found in the vapor of e-cigarettes have been linked to a number of cancers. And vaping can cause lung irritation, infection in airways, circulatory problems and increased blood pressure and heart rate.

There are a lot of known facts about vaping, even though it is considered a fairly new vice. But like smoking, more facts will surface over time, proving vaping is not a healthy option for anyone, including teenagers.

“Vaping is not as overt as smoking,” Genger said. “You don’t see a cloud of smoke and smell the smoke from someone who is vaping. And the kids are finding ways to hide the vaping items. You can’t really do that with a cigarette.”

Obtaining the vaping paraphernalia the kids are using is very easy and is available in so many places and in so many forms, which is another reason this new craze is very scary. 

“Kids can get a hold of this stuff anywhere on the Internet. All you have to do is check the box that says you are 18 years of age, even if you are only 15 and you can order it online,” Mayfield said. 

Mayfield checked out a Google website by entering vape starter kits and everything anyone could possibly want to start this dangerous habit, was listed right on this site. You load your personal information, provide a credit card number and an address where it should be shipped, check the box that says you are 18 and within a few days, you have your very own vape starter kit. It is that easy.

“At the top of the vape starter kit site, it shows how many people have tapped into it and this particular one had 120,000,000 hits in less than one minute,” she said. 

Along with vaping “equipment,” you can also purchase “vape-wear.” From that site you can purchase hoodies, backpacks and other gear that come ready made to vape. The strings on a hoodie for instance can become a vape delivery system by attaching to your favorite vape pen.

That site had over nine million hits in less than a minute.

Terrified? We all should be!

These facts, figures and the reality that vaping is alive and well in our schools right here in Cut Bank is indeed frightening. But the good news, the administration, staff, teachers and even some of the students are getting on board and trying to educate everyone, students and staff alike, about vaping hazards. 

“There is no way legislation is going to curb the rise in vaping. Prohibition did not stop drinking. People just found other ways to get alcohol. Kids are going to do the same,” Genger said. 

That does not mean all hope is lost in the school system.

“We are working on educating not only the students, but the staff and hopefully, the parents too, on the risks of vaping,” Genger said. “I am also hoping that vaping will become something like tobacco and will be cyclical and eventually not what it is now. Until then, we will continue finding ways to educate everyone on the risks of vaping.”

One way is to use a some already established classroom time. 

“Our three health and physical education teachers in the high school and middle school, are pushing lots of information on vaping,” said Mayfield. “Teenagers think they are invincible. We hope with this education, we can show them otherwise.”

During recent Parent Teacher Conferences, parents were encouraged to check out a display board called “Hidden in Plain Sight.” 

Mayfield said this was an education experience for parents that allowed them to walk through a typical teenage bedroom and try to identify the 33 drug paraphernalia items located in the room.

“It offers adults an insight into current trends in youth substance abuse, drug paraphernalia and concealment of illicit drugs and alcohol. You can practice your observation skills at this link, http://powertotheparent.org/be-aware/hidden-in-plain-sight/,” she said.

Also, during the last few days, several different vignettes were available for viewing by students and staff, providing even more information on vaping and putting it in a context appealing to the kids.

“We can do a lot of educational things here, but the real education starts at home with the parents and we are encouraging parents to talk to their kids about the risks, the dangers and the reasons they shouldn’t vape,” Genger said. “We want everyone to hear what is happening with this and we want them to know it is important.”

It is important. Vaping is dangerous and potentially deadly. Students need to know. Teachers need to know as do parents. Become part of the education process and who knows, you might get someone to put down their vaping pen, for good.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.