Vaping – the use of e-cigarettes – among teenagers has grown at an alarming rate in recent years, and Dearborn Public Schools is seeing the consequences of this mounting health concern.
In a national survey in 2018, one in five 12th grade students reported vaping nicotine within the last month. More than one in four said they had vaped within the last year.
The increase in teen vaping was the largest single increase in reported drug use since the survey started 44 years ago.
The same survey showed more than 6 percent of eighth graders had also vaped within the last month.
Vaping is not allowed on any Dearborn Public School property. Students caught vaping or in possession of vaping products face serious discipline, including possible suspension, as well as a misdemeanor ticket from the school resource officer.
Many parents may not realize their students are vaping, and most students underestimate the potential harm of using these products.
Vaping products no longer look or smell like traditional cigarettes, but they contain the same, or even higher, levels of addictive nicotine. Modern vaping devices can look like thumb drives, phone charging banks or other devices. The “juice” used in vaping devices comes in dozens of kid-friendly flavors. Among those confiscated in our schools were cotton candy, gummy bear, mango bomb, and kiwi berry.
Dearborn students have also been caught using vaping devices to smoke THC, the high-producing chemical in marijuana.
Families with young children should be especially wary of vaping liquids. Hundreds of young children have been poisoned and a few have died after drinking the liquid. A single Juul pod has about the same nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, but in the size of a thumb drive.
Experts say many teens underestimate the harm of vaping.
Because teens’ brains are still developing, they are especially vulnerable to becoming addicted to nicotine. And any addiction is seen as a stepping stone to more serious drug use because the brain has been rewired to crave the next buzz.
Like smoking, vaping still carries carcinogens and other hazardous material including heavy metals and ultrafine particles directly into the lungs.
Dearborn Public Schools is working to raise awareness and get the community to help us combat this growing health concern.