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Superintendent News & Views-What Parents Need to Know About Vaping By David Hill, Gladbrook-Reinbeck Superintendent

October 10, 2019
Reinbeck Courier
“Vaping” is a term often used to describe the use of a a nicotine vaporizer – also known as electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes. Studies show that vaping is becoming increasingly popular with young people. In a recent nationwide survey, nearly 1/3 of high school seniors reported that they have tried vaping at some point. The U.S. Surgeon General recently referred to teen vaping as an epidemic. A vape can be small, discrete, and odor-free. They often resemble USB flash drives or pens and can be easily purchased online and at many gas stations and convenience stores. The easily concealed and the odorless nature of these products makes it possible for them to be used without detection in many situations. Nicotine is delivered through replaceable pods or tanks of liquid. The liquid nicotine is often flavored and smells fruity or sweet when exhaled. One pod can have as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. Vapes can also be used for marijuana and other substances. These devices have become popular among young people because they are easy to obtain, taste sweet like candy, and difficult to detect. Many young people don’t understand that vapes contain nicotine – or they think vaping is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. That’s simply not true. With the high concentration of nicotine, they are much MORE addictive and much MORE harmful to young people. What are the warning signs that your child may be vaping? Teens will sometimes exhibit withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, trouble sleeping, and extreme irritability. While vapes don’t have a traditional smoke smell, many do have a fruity or sweet smell. Marijuana vapes sometimes have a soapy or burnt smell. Many teens will assume their parents don’t know the terminology related to vaping and might use “code words” with their friends. If you hear your child or one of his/her friends talking about “Juice” or a “Pod” (the nicotine liquid or cartridge), they may be referring to vaping. Other terms include “Juul” (a popular brand) or “Pen” (a popular term for a vape). Parents and students should be aware that at school, we will treat the use of vapes and/or the possession of vapes in the same way as we would treat the use or possession of other forms of nicotine/tobacco. Our school board policy prohibits these items even if they don’t contain nicotine/tobacco. For nearly all of our students, possessing and/or using these devices is against the law and for ALL of our students, it is a violation of school rules. As an educator and a parent, I urge all parents to have a conversation with their child about the dangers of electronic cigarettes and vaping. Contrary to what some may think, vaping is NOT safe. Nicotine use during adolescence has been shown to impact brain development. Because of the high concentration of nicotine contained in vapes children are becoming hooked and addicted to at a much faster rate. Furthermore, studies have shown that teens who vape are four times more likely to start using tobacco cigarettes. I encourage your feedback on this column, along with any questions you may have. You are welcome to visit my blog at  http://rebelsupt.blogspot.com/  where you can read all of my columns and leave comments if you wish. You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter, where my handle is  @DavidRobertHill.

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