Chesco health officials warn about youth vaping

Monday, November 5, 2018
  • Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist Selena Moressi of Caron Treatment Centers discusses the dangers of teen vaping and e-cigarettes at Phoenixvill Area High School. Oscar Gamble — Digital First Media

PHOENIXVILLE — They come in a variety of alluring flavors like Mango and Vanilla Bean Swirl. They’re packaged in sleek, discrete devices that can be concealed in the palm of your hand and charged from any USB port.

And they were initially marketed as a safe alternative to smoking. But vapes and e-cigarettes pose a number of health risks to teens, and parents need to be aware.

That was the message The Chester County Tobacco-Free Coalition brought to Phoenixville Area High School Thursday night during a special presentation on the dangers of vaping.

The discussion was led by health educator and Chester County Tobacco-Free Coalition Chairwoman Lindsay Smith, Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist Selena Moressi of Caron Treatment Centers, and Phoenixville Hospital Community Nurse Michelle Evans.

The purpose of the forum was to educate parents on the use of e-cigarettes and vapes — a phenomenon that has become more and more pervasive throughout the district explained Assistant Principal Darryl Perecko.

Perecko said he and other administrators first encountered vaping devices a couple of years ago and had no idea what was in them, how they operated or how popular they really were.

“If we were this clueless and we’re seeing them almost on a daily basis, how clueless must the parents be because they probably don’t even realize this stuff is going on,” he said.

“We came so far with smoking, but then we’ve gone so far back with vaping,” said Smith, describing the not-so-subtle ways in which vaping is marketed to young people.

Smith said even though the sale of these products is prohibited to anyone under 18, clouds of vapor have replaced clouds of smoke in some high-school, and even middle school bathrooms.

The presenters went on to dispel many of the misconceptions about vaping, noting that users are not just inhaling harmless flavored water vapor, but an aerosol mist that could contain heavy metals and even formaldehyde — a known carcinogen.

The biggest potential risk posed by vaping, according to the presenters, is the addictive effect of nicotine, which most flavored vapes contain.

JUUL, one of the most popular brands, contains about 200 puffs — upwards of 40 milligrams of nicotine — per cartridge.

The nicotine in vapes can interfere with the normal processes of developing brains, making addiction to tobacco or other drugs more likely and adversely affecting learning, memory, and mood, they said.

Swallowing the liquid used in a vape, which is toxic if ingested, can also pose a risk for younger children.


According to the latest Chester County statistics from the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) 21.8 percent of 10th graders and 34.3 percent of 12th graders have used a vaping device or e-cigarette within the last 30 days, and 17.5 percent of sophomores and 28 percent of seniors have vaped marijuana or hash oil over the same span.

In fact, vaping has now become the second most used substance, behind alcohol for junior and senior high school students.

But the news is not all doom and gloom, according to Moressi. While federal and state regulations are still being considered, there are a number of protective steps parents, teachers and students can take now to curb vaping.

Educating teens about the real dangers of vaping is foremost. But voicing disapproval, setting a good example and encouraging interaction with vape-free peer groups are all effective strategies, she said.

There are also a number of helpful resources, including Teens Against Tobacco Use, a program run by the American Lung Association and Campaign For Tobacco-free Kids, www.tobaccofreekids.org.

The Chester County Tobacco-Free Coalition meets six times per school year in the West Chester Government Services Center, 601 Westtown Road. E-mail lcsmith@chesco.org for more information.

[Article originally posted by The Mercy at: https://www.pottsmerc.com/news/chesco-health-officials-warn-about-youth-vaping/article_2c312510-9a24-5f8d-9e5e-ba2de9d3725d.html]

By Oscar Gamble ogamble@timesherald.com @OGamble_TH on Twitter Nov 2, 2018 Updated Nov 3, 2018