Vaping: ‘2017 version of Marlboro’

Vaping: ‘2017 version of Marlboro’

Terri-Lynn Longpre, of the Cumberland Prevention Coalition, demonstrates how vaping products and drugs can be made to look like everyday items during a town hall meeting in the Cumberland High School cafeteria on Jan. 16. (Breeze photos by Jessica Picard)
CHS educates parents about harm of growing student trend

CUMBERLAND – Scott Carpenter, a dean of students at Cumberland High School, coughed into his arm to demonstrate how easy it is for students to hide electronic cigarette, or “vape,” use in class.

“The teacher would have to be looking directly at them in order to see it,” he explained.

About 50 parents and community members gathered in the Cumberland High School cafeteria on Jan. 16 to learn more about the trend of “vaping,” and how to start a conversation with their children on the topic.

“Our concern is that we are seeing an increasing trend in vaping. We thought it was important that we share with parents what we are seeing,” said Supt. Robert Mitchell.

Increased use of e-cigarettes is not just in the high school, but in the middle schools as well, said school officials.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current use of electronic cigarettes increased among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2016. The CDC reported that in 2016, about four out of every 100 middle school students and 11 out of every 100 high school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.

“We have had issues with this in the past, but nothing like we saw at the beginning of this year,” Carpenter said. Behind him was a table displaying some of the vaping products that had been confiscated from students this year. Among them were bottles of different flavored gels; “JUULs,” which are small hand-held devices containing about 200 cigarette puffs’ worth of nicotine; and a vape box.

Parents at the meeting declined to give their names to The Breeze out of concern that people might think their children are vaping.

One parent asked what vaping smells like, in order to identify if her children are doing it. Unlike cigarettes, the parent was told, there is no lingering smoke smell to vaping. It may smell fruity, or like whatever flavor liquid the person is smoking, but the smell dissipates quickly.

“It doesn’t matter where they fit in, we are finding students on the National Honor Society vaping. It’s everybody,” Carpenter said.

According to Carpenter, e-cigarettes are the “2017 version of Marlboro.” Made to simulate the act of smoking, e-cigarettes heat a liquid to create an aerosol, or “vapor,” which is inhaled. Carpenter said students this year were found putting marijuana or alcohol into their e-cigarettes. By smoking the alcohol, it goes straight to the bloodstream without being processed by the liver, thus affecting the student more than if they drank the alcohol.

If a student is caught vaping on school property, they receive one to three days of in-school suspension, four to six meetings with a substance abuse or student assistance councilor, possible community service hours, and are referred to the police department, where it is decided whether the student will be charged or not under the law. According to Carpenter, police involvement has had the most impact so far in discouraging students from bringing e-cigarettes to school.

Under the law, buyers of e-cigarettes have to be at least 18 years old, but that has not stopped minors from obtaining them. Many online websites that sell the vaping products do not ask for proof of age. Vaping products attract younger people through their use of bright colors and different flavors such as “Candy King,” “Confetti Waffles,” and “Naked Unicorn,” said school officials.

Another parent asked why parents should tell their children not to vape.

While many students are under the impression that what they are smoking is just flavored water vapor, many vaping products contain nicotine, as well as other chemicals used to make the gels, said Carpenter. Since vaping is a relatively new trend, there have not been studies on the long-term effects of using the products. One risk that has been noted is popcorn lung: scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs, resulting in the thickening and narrowing of the airways. It causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

School officials also advised parents on what to look for in their children, and how to start a conversation about vaping with their families. They were advised to make it a part of normal conversation, and to look up the lingo related to vaping and drug use. Some signs of e-cigarette use could be a student suddenly hanging out with different people, acting differently, slipping grades, and plastic caps and packaging being found in their pockets and belongings. Parents were also advised to monitor their children’s social media accounts.

A mock bedroom was set up in the back of the CHS cafeteria, depicting how teenagers may hide drug or vaping paraphernalia in plain sight. Items included soda cans that were used as secret compartments, sneakers, books and magazines, and inhalers among other seemingly everyday items.

“It’s your house, you have the right to go in there and search that room,” Mitchell said.

School officials said they’re hoping that by holding these types of meetings, informing parents what to look for, and starting to educate students at a young age on the dangers of using these products, the trend of students using e-cigarettes will dissipate.

The school has created a website to continue to inform parents on the issue. Visit sites.google.com/cumberlandschools.org/chsletsgetcaughtup/home .

“Please don’t feel that this is just a Cumberland High School problem, or a Rhode Island problem. This is a national problem,” Carpenter said.

Bottles of flavored liquids are displayed with other vaping products confiscated from Cumberland students.

Comments

I am sure we will have no health concerns from all the chemicals required to do this converted into a breathable mist. I often hear that it's healthier than cigarettes because it's not controlled by a mega corporation. Also, sarcasm.

Smoking is and always will be a disgusting habit.