When our high school students completed our most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey in the early spring of 2017, 41.1% said YES to the question Have you ever used an electronic vapor product?
In the same survey, 27.2% of our high school students said YES to the question During the past 30 days, how many days did you use an electronic vapor product?
What are these products? Known by many names, including e-cigarettes, vapes, and by a commercial name Juul, electronic vapor products provide the user with an aerosol that may deliver nicotine (which is highly addictive) or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana (which is as addictive as alcohol).
Both of these substances are especially harmful to normal adolescent brain development, which continues into their early 20’s. Not surprisingly, vaping also may harm the user’s lungs.
The Centers for Disease Control warn us that “some e-cigarettes are made to look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some resemble pens, USB sticks, and other everyday items.” So they can be very challenging to identify. Use can be difficult to detect, as the usual odors associated with burning tobacco or cannabis are not present.
In addition to the health risks, use of an electronic vapor product is not permitted in our Pittsfield schools or on school grounds, including Drake Field. And, yes, a number of students have violated this ban in the new school year and have received school suspensions as a result.
To learn more about the risks that our Pittsfield high schoolers are taking and to learn more about electronic vapor product use, you are invited to two special events, organized by Stand Up, Pittsfield! and PMHS Health Educator James Cobern:
• Youth Risk Behavior Survey – presentation of most recent survey of our high school students
o 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 24, PMHS Media Center
• Vaping Info Meeting and Forum – presented in collaboration with Breath New Hampshire
o 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 27, PMHS Lecture Hall
For our middle high school students, we’ll be hosting presentations by Merrimack County Juvenile Services over the next few weeks. So, parents, be sure to ask your students what they learn in the upcoming presentations.