Vaping Education presented to our School District
Vaping has been around since 2007 and everyone thought that it was going to be a safer alternative to smoking. However, in August 2019, completely unexpected, and for no identifiable reason, people began having very serious lung injuries and death. The only common denominator was their recent history of vaping. Additionally, with the increased use of flavors to make nicotine inhalation more tolerable, junior high and high school students have been vaping at alarmingly increased amounts. Due to a moderate amount of vaping in our own USD 300 school district, staff felt led to offer the students a little education on the subject. Melanie Dunn, APRN from Comanche County Medical Clinic, spoke to 6th through 8th grade students Monday November 11 and to the 9-12 grade students in two separate presentations Tuesday November 12. Some of the things that were shared with the students included;
Substances, many of them cancer causing, regularly used in the vaping liquid other than nicotine and THC (the mind altering chemical from Marijuana), the effects that vaping and smoking can have on their lungs, a video showing the difference between healthy and unhealthy lung function, and the recent discovery from studying some of the lungs of the 2000 plus illnesses and 39 deaths caused in the last 4 months secondary to vaping. At this time, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has isolated Vitamin E acetate in 100% of the samples being studied. Vitamin E is used in some vape solutions (especially the solutions that contain THC) to thicken the solution. They are continuing their investigations to learn more.
While, the current vaping scare is related to lung issues, Dunn took the opportunity to discuss with the students the effect that vaping can have on their teeth and the well documented cases of injury and death from vape pen explosions. To round out the presentation, she talked about and illustrated the effects that nicotine, marijuana, and other addictive substances and behaviors (such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, gaming, etc.,) can have on their brains. The students learned that the normal development of the decision making piece of their brain doesn’t fully develop until age 25. For this reason, their rates of addiction are much higher than that of an adult, and they are more vulnerable to the temptations to try these high risk activities. They are also at a higher risk of permanent brain consequences due to the immaturity and actively developing brain. They were educated about the increased level of nicotine being used in vaping solutions (since they aren’t regulated by FDA) from 2007 until now. Higher levels of nicotine increases their risk of nicotine poisoning and addiction, and research is showing that these addictions are setting young people up for an increased risk of addiction to more harmful drugs.
The bottom line for the students was the fact that, while vaping at one time seemed like a healthier alternative to smoking, it is no longer considered safer for a number of different reasons. They were encouraged not to start or even try vaping or cigarette use. Those that are using nicotine or THC regularly were encouraged to seek help from trusted adults for their addiction. The students were educated on the basis that Knowledge is Power and by learning and understanding more about the effects of nicotine on their bodies and brains, and the potential consequences they may suffer as a result, that they would be better able to make decisions to keep them safe and healthy.
The Mission of Comanche County Hospital is to work together to provide the finest healthcare for everyone.