‘This generation is the next test subject’

Today’s discussion is sharing valuable information for health and well-being, particularly among youth and young adults. It’s important to have as many facts as possible so you can make informed decisions. If you would teach your child not to touch a hot burner on your kitchen range, wouldn’t you also want them to know the dangers of other things that can harm them, about wolves in sheep’s clothing, and when and how to say, “No”?

First, here are a few facts from the Food and Drug Administration for you to consider as you drink your morning coffee.

Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began to smoke in adolescence.

An estimated 2,000 American youth, per day, smoke their first cigarette.

Tobacco use, any type, almost always starts and is established in adolescence when the developing brain is most at risk of nicotine addiction.

Vaping and JUULing are becoming very popular among youth and young adults.

“Most parents don’t realize,” said Ron Sines, assistant principal at Southern Local Junior-Senior High School. “This generation is the next test subject.”

“JUULs are the size of a jump drive, easy to conceal,” said Southern Local’s junior-senior high guidance counselor, Nancy Saling. She emphasized that vaping and JUULing are a problem throughout Columbiana County and across the state. She said that the problem is so new the data is constantly changing and it is challenging to find a speaker to present programs about the subject.

“Many schools are inviting doctors to talk about this,” said Brenda Foor, facilitator of ADAPT Coalition through the Education Department of Family Recovery Center. But she continues to search for speakers and programs to help educate students and parents about the vape/JUUL epidemic. And the FDA does define it as an epidemic, with 78 percent increase of student use in the past year alone.

People tend to think that inhaling vapor, something that smells pleasant, can’t possibly be harmful. But that just isn’t true. Actually, there is a link between traditional tobacco products and electronic smoking devices. Using a vape can lead to smoking traditional tobacco products. And those vapors aren’t harmful just to the person who is using the device. The emissions may also affect the people around them just like secondhand smoke.

What exactly is a “vape”? It began as a way to help smokers stop smoking, but it has grown into something different. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that e-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particles in the air. Some look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens and other everyday items.

Columbiana County Deputy Brandon Hoppel is the resource officer for Southern Local School District. He advised that vapes/JUULs are not totally nicotine free, and anything can be added to them. He also said that kids are the target market, citing a website that markets wholesale CBD oil as “Mario Carts +Exotic Carts.” CBD oil is cannabidiol and found in the cannabis flower.

The FDA advises that, “Vapes get their flavors from chemicals. While these flavorings are safe to eat in food, they’re not safe to inhale. Inhaling flavor chemicals can harm your lungs.” For example, some flavors contain diacetyl and acetoin. Inhaling diacetyl has been linked to popcorn lung, a lung disease that doesn’t have a cure.

Just water vapor? Think again. “Vaping can expose the user’s lungs to harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, diacetyl and acrolein, as well as toxic metal particles like nickel, tin and lead.”

The FDA advised in 2017 that it is focused on nicotine and addiction to “better protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death in the U.S. …[T]he Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan … aims to stop youth use of, and access to, tobacco products – especially e-cigarettes.”

The FDA has been regulating tobacco products for the past 10 years and three years ago added to the list of regulated products: e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels and dissolvables.

“The troubling reality,” writes Scott Gottlieb, M.D., FDA commissioner, “is that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) such as e-cigarettes have become popular with kids. We understand, by all accounts, many of them may be using products that closely resemble a USB flash drive, have high levels of nicotine and emissions that are hard to see. These characteristics may facilitate youth use by making the products more attractive to children and teens.”

We hope you will watch for future articles about the issue of vaping and JUULing.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.