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What do our kids know and think about vaping?

Thursday, January 17, 2019 Leave a Comment

Image courtesy of the Denver Post
We all know tobacco is unhealthy, especially for kids, but tobacco use - especially vaping - by our youth in Colorado has become an epidemic. Vaping is particularly dangerous for youth because nicotine damages the developing brain and can cause long-term damage. Colorado youth are vaping nicotine at twice the national average and at the highest rate of 37 states surveyed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, most recently, this last September the FDA declared vaping as an epidemic across the United States.

In addition to nicotine, vape e-juice may contain chemicals that cause cancer and can lead to health problems including wheezing, coughing, sinus infections, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, and asthma. What scares me the most is that young people who take up vaping are more than four times more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes a year later. This is not the future I want for my kids.

I wanted to dig deeper and find out what some local kids actually know and think about vaping, so I sat down with two of my son's friends to hear their thoughts. Both are in 7th grade and 12 years old, and one attends a public school and one a private school in Denver.

I was impressed with both boys but didn't get the impression that their experience is typical. Both said they know vaping is bad for you. "I mean, they say it’s, like, worse than smoking, except it’s really not and they’re both bad." They said some of the 8th graders at their schools were vaping and a few 7th graders, but that none did it at school or in class, a problem caused by the fact that the JUUL and other vaping products look like USB drives (there are tons of recent news stories about this as it's become a huge problem).

When asked if vaping appealed to them or if they thought it was interesting, both boys emphatically said, "No, not at all." If they saw my son or another friend vaping they would ask why he was doing that - "Why are you doing that bad decision [sic]?" (Exactly the kind of friends I want for my son. ❤)

While they've been around older teens vaping at public events (a ski competition was mentioned), they know their school experiences may not be typical. Both attend smaller schools and thought it would be different at a larger middle school with more students, and especially in a public school with fewer "restrictions" where administrators "aren't as harsh."

The boys were appalled at the fact that vaping devices are candy flavored and being made and marketed in such a way that they're attractive to kids. One said, "I think it’s dumb. ‘Cause, they’re like, kind of making kids want to get them. Like the cotton candy and Jolly Rancher flavors – kids have those candies all the time." I agree. Totally dumb.

It's time to say enough.

Back in September, we at Stapleton Moms put together a piece on "Vaping and kids:  What Parents need to know" that has tons of resources and information from Tobacco Free Colorado, including a great tip sheet for parents and caregivers when talking to our youth about vaping and what to do if you find out your child is vaping.

While 87% of Colorado youth think smoking is risky, only 50% think vaping is risky. More than half say it's easy to get regular or e-cigarettes.

Together we can help reverse this trend and keep our kids healthy and safe.

Learn more at TobaccoFreeCO.org.

This post is in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, but opinions are mine.


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