Commentary: What do you know about vaping?

Megan Albanese, STEPS Coalition outreach manager

What do you know about the latest trend impacting the youth in Southington? Electronic cigarette and vaping products have recently gained much attention, especially from youth.

Electronic cigarettes (or E-cigarettes) are battery-operated devices designed to deliver nicotine with flavorings and other chemicals in vapor instead of smoke. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine without burning tobacco, therefore appear and have been marketed as if they may be a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.

With research only beginning to be conducted, many are left asking questions, or have misguided information, on products that were originally marketed to be alternatives to smoking cigarettes. You take the test – how much do you know about E-cigarettes and vaping products?

Myth or Fact? E-cigarettes are safe. Myth! There are currently no regulations set by the Federal Drug Administration on E-cigarettes. Studies have discovered toxic chemicals, such as antifreeze and formaldehyde, to be found in these products. Because the FDA does not regulate these products, there are no requirements around ingredient disclosure or warning labels.

Myth or Fact? E-cigarettes do not contain nicotine. Myth! Almost all E-cigarettes contain nicotine even though many claim they are nicotine-free. Developing research shows wide-ranging nicotine levels in E-cigarettes and inconsistencies between listed and actual nicotine levels in these products. Nicotine is an addictive substance that can have negative health impacts, including on adolescent brain development. The more nicotine a person uses, the greater the potential for addiction.

A recent study taken by Southington students in grades 7, 9 and 11, showed the prevalence of past 30-day use of E-cigarettes and vaping has more than doubled in the past two years. In 2016, 11.2 percent of the students surveyed acknowledged using vaping products in the last 30 days. In 2018, the number jumped to 22.7 percent, with 10.2 percent of these users claiming to vape 20 to 39 times per month and 31.3 percent vape 40 times or more per month.

While the data is showing that the preferred vaping substance in grade 7 is flavored liquids, by grade 11 most students reported vaping tobacco and marijuana.

STEPS (Southington’s Town-wide Effort to Promote Success)
200 North Main St., Southington, CT 06489
Tel: (860) 276-6285

When asked how much risk was involved in vaping flavored liquids, tobacco/nicotine and marijuana, the students’ answers were surprising. As students get older, they are more likely to have an opinion regarding the risk involved. The younger students claim they “don’t know” the risks of vaping flavored liquids or tobacco, with 22.0 percent of seventh graders and 15.3 percent of ninth graders declaring they do not know the dangers.

Surprised at how high the numbers are? We are too. The most important thing we can do as a community is to educate ourselves on the facts and dangers of E-cigarettes and vaping and share what we know. Stay up to date and ‘in the know’ by visiting our website and liking us on Facebook. Here in Southington, we make substance abuse prevention a priority.

Megan Albanese is the Southington STEPS Coalition outreach coordinator. She can be reached at (860) 276-6281 or albanesem@southington.org.

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