EXETER, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — “We’ve noticed that over the last year and a half to two years, we’ve had an increased number of students who’ve been discussing vaping, and we’ve had a slight increase in incidents in the building,” John Pollard, principal of the Wyoming Area School District said.
Because of this, Pollard decided it was time to have a presentation to educate students about the harms of vaping. Vaping is a new craze that is marketed as harmless. Cammie Anderson, a Drug and Alcohol Specialist at the Robinson Counseling Center, says kids are receiving false information about the dangers of vaping.
“In the beginning, this was all marketed as safe and just water. So we have a generation of kids who probably, a lot of them, a majority would have never picked up the habit of smoking, who saw vaping as truly being not such a big deal,” Anderson said.
Over the past few months, there has been an increase in illnesses related to vaping. Vapes were once sold as the clean alternative to cigarettes since it doesn’t contain tobacco. But recent information has revealed the aerosol in vapes, called vape juice, still contains dangerous substances.
“Like if it says no nicotine, there are still parts of nicotine in there even though the bottle is labeled no nicotine,” seventh-grader Mario Belza said.
The presentation discussed other hazardous chemicals found in vape juice, like arsenic and formaldehyde. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions about vaping and shown some of the techniques companies use to attract kids to their products. Anderson says one of the platforms for marketing to kids is social media.
“I don’t get these ads on social media but my students are. So they’re absolutely being targeted again through flavorings that attracts kids, some of the give-aways that attracts kids, and through social media,” Anderson said.
As of today, the minimum age to buy an e-cigarette or vape is 18 years old. But Anderson says she’s found kids in fourth grade with e-cigarettes and vapes in their possession.
Kids under the legal age to buy vapes are able to get them online through sites that don’t check their age, like Amazon. They’re also able to buy them off other kids. She says that’s why it’s crucial to educate students about how dangerous vaping can be.
“What we need to do is educate not only our students… our parents, our community. And I think everybody needs to be giving kids the same consistent message,” Anderson said.
“I do think I will remember what was taught in the presentation today,” Belza said.