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Please Look Through the Smoke Screen

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Are you a parent? Here’s a question for you -- If I used the term vaping, would you know what I was talking about?

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.

The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease.

Vaping has grown in popularity with the rise of e-cigarettes, which were introduced to the mass market in the U.S. in 2007. Vaping devices include not just e-cigarettes, but also vape pens and advanced personal vaporizers (also known as ‘MODS’). E-cigarettes, which resemble smoked cigarettes, and vape pens, which resemble large fountain pens, are typically simpler in design and less expensive than devices that have been customized by the user.

The reason I am bringing this to your attention is because results of the annual Monitoring the Future survey shows that vaping is very popular among our youth. The survey indicates that nearly 1 in 3 students in 12th grade report past year use of some kind of vaping device.

As a parent, you should be seriously concerned about the impact of this practice on your child’s health. Why? Some research suggests that many teens do not actually know what is in the device they are using, and even if they read the label, not all labeling is consistent or accurate.

Not to mention the fact that there are dozens of vape shops in Middlesex County alone. If you live along a major state highway (like Route 1 or Route 18), there are vape shops close to where you and your children live, shop, or worse, attend school.

There will be much more coming out about this topic in the near future. Which is why our agency is focused on getting this information out to parents and educators throughout the County. Our staff has prepared a presentation that encompasses all of the latest drug trends among our youth. You can arrange for us to deliver this message in your community or school. Just write to me for additional details.

For now, all I ask of parents is to keep your eyes and ears widely open to the latest news about substance use among our youth. Talk to your children, their friends, their educators. Please don’t get caught unaware because you simply don’t have the time to pay attention.

May this New Year brings you a peace filled life, warmth and togetherness in your family and much prosperity! Happy New Year!

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