Vaping at BEA
Turn on the news at night and stories on vaping and the dangers associated with this practice seem to be on every channel.
In fact, the Food and Drug Administration is now calling the use of e-cigarettes by teens an epidemic with no signs of abating.
This is not a problem affecting some other area of the country. Vaping is a problem right here in Faribault County.
Because of this, the Blue Earth Area School District is implementing a campaign to educate students, their parents and members of the community about the dangers of vaping.
Education will be provided through blogs on the school website and social media facts and short videos which will be posted on the Blue Earth Area Schools Facebook and Instagram pages.
The district will also sponsor community informational meetings in conjunction with United Hospital District Health Care Providers (UHD). The first informational meeting was held on Monday, Nov. 4, at the Blue Earth Area Performing Arts Center.
Superintendent Mandy Fletcher opened the meeting by informing those in attendance vaping is here and the use is increasing.
Dan Bullerman, the school resource officer, showed a short video which explained the different devices used to vape.
“A lot of kids do not even think of smoking cigarettes anymore,” Bullerman explained. “But they will vape with a product which may have as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.”
JUUL is one company which markets e-cigarettes. The amount of nicotine in an e-cigarette is not always stated on the package, according to Bullerman.
“JUULs are easy to hide, they may look like a flash drive, a pen or some other harmless device,” Bullerman said.Getting caught vaping also has academic repercussions.
“E-cigs or vapes are considered a tobacco product by the Minnesota State High School League so there is a penalty associated with getting caught vaping,” high school principal Greg Ewing stated.
Blue Earth Area School nurse Ann Croften was the next to speak.
“Because of the nicotine we see in these products, we are worried about addiction,” Croften said. “While we have seen a decline among students in the use of traditional cigarettes, since 2014 vaping has taken off. Reports show as many as 5,700 kids start vaping in the U.S. every day.”
She also told the audience it is not just the nicotine which is dangerous, there are other harmful chemicals in the vaping products such as formaldehyde and propylene glycol.
“Vaping can harm brain development,” Croften explained. “Nicotine is a stimulant and can rewire the brain and make it easier to become addicted to other substances.”
Teresa Stevermer, a certified nurse practitioner with UHD, told those in attendance there are issues which can make a person more apt to start vaping.
“Anxiety and depression can be precursors to vaping,” Stevermer said. “But people need to understand what is happening to their lungs. Long term, the outlook is not good.”
UHD doctor Aaron Johnson explained further.
“Kids are under a lot of stress, whether it is worrying about getting into college or playing sports,” Johnson remarked. “Kids end up self-treating when they are under stress.”
He also offered this advice to parents and students.
“Don’t be afraid to step up and say something,” Johnson said. “The people selling this product only care about their money and profits and getting you addicted so they keep getting your money.”