Nationwide Vaping Epidemic Hits Plumas in California, USA

In the past many years the observation that e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product by the youth is alarming. About more than 2 million middle and high school students are at present the users of e-cigs in 2017.

How has this happened so suddenly and so fast?

As shared by the public health authorities Juul vapes are similar to USB sticks. There are easily available everywhere and marketed to the youth in a very attractive manner. Thus they have successfully controlled about 70 – 80 % of the vaping market share.

Although cities and counties are doing their level best to curb flavored tobacco products specifically as they favorably allured the youth also as young as fourth and fifth-grade students. There are some vape pens which are rechargeable but easy enough to conceal them and vape in and out of the school.

Plumas is in battle with the illegal use and addiction of vapes by the youth

It is difficult for the Plumas County schools, teachers, health officials and parents to trace the usage of these e-cigs as they do not have a telltale smoke or ashtray smell of tobacco to reach the culprits.

Some adults and most of the students are unaware that vapes are not only vaporizing harmless water but they are exposing themselves to highly addictive chemicals, known carcinogens, and heavy metals.

These students have taken to vaping these harmful substances thinking that these are good stress busters and simple relaxing method. Some just do it out of peer pressure and to be one of the groups in the cool crowd of schools. The elementary schools are also not left out. Students have been caught from here with nicotine cartridges.

Parents are Emotionally affected the most

As very natural it is, parents are the most affected as they are with the kids for the maximum time in a day yet are not aware of their vaping actions. The vapor vanishes off in the air so very quickly and that remains in the air is the strawberry, chocolate or mango type of smell which gets camouflaged as a someone’s lip gloss or candies.

The parents shared that there are at least three-quarters of the kid’s population they know have vaped at least once in their lives or are still in the habit of doing so. It was painful to express that the kids feel about vaping to be ‘an instant gratification or they need it to focus on something’. So it is not only about the refreshing flavors like chocolate mint etc, it’s got to be about nicotine particularly.

When and What happened that Youth took to Vaping?

  • Vaping was introduced in 2000 to society only as a means of smoking cessation for the adults.
  • FDA has still not approved it as the Government statistics have shown very poor success rates in smoking cessation due to vaping.
  • California has banned the use of tobacco or it’s related products including electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) below 21 years of age.
  • Addition of kid-friendly flavorings, marketing techniques, easy availability, and the discreet Juul vapes are the major reasons for the youth taking to Vaping.

Who said that Vaping is harmless?

The vape usage among the school students in America estimated rose up to 900 percent from 2011 to 2015 – This is a crystal clear picture of what US surgeon General Jerome Adams is calling a national epidemic.

Nicotine is a very addictive substance more than heroin and cocaine. Its impact is seen clearly in learning, memory, attention, development of brain etc.of the kids in particular.

Concerns and Actions are increasing

Retired former Plumas County District Attorney James Reichle of Greenville is highly concerned as tributaries feeding the epidemic: retailers, online sales and other adults who offer vaping devices to kids below 21.

Teachers are involved in curbing youth vaping

Bruce Mulligan, Plumas County Office of Education (PCOE) prevention coordinator, has had presentations to the teachers, administrators, families, and students all about the ill effects of vaping.

He threw light upon the ways in which students need to be handled on being caught vaping. He demonstrated a few life examples. He guided how the students stealthily bring vapes to school, home and other surroundings that none can identify them easily. Such as – Juul flash-drive lookalikes, sippy Vapor Cups and soda cans with fake straws, decoy inhalers that resemble those used to treat asthma attacks, knock-off Sharpie pens with vaping hardware inside, pretend ice cream cups, lollipop vape pens, faux juice boxes and tubes made to look like hoodie cords that can be threaded through a sweatshirt and sucked on to get nicotine vapors.

Diligent Efforts made by the Public Health

The Plumas County Public Health Agency (PCPHA) is highly active to eradicate the problem of youth vaping. They ran an anti-tobacco campaign under the federal program. Conducted peer-to-peer tobacco usage reduction education program across hundreds of students from the elementary, junior and senior high school.

Dr. Shadi Barfjani, M.D. is PCPHA’s new Chief of Programs Division, alerted the students related to various serious physical problems they are susceptible to suffer if they start or continue vaping. Such as – Heavy metals cause tissue damage, diacetyl vapor cause popcorn lung, etc.

The Possible Risks of Tomorrow

Chester High Principal Hernandez had a valid point of observation that when the older youth will be well informed about the sufferings that one has to bear due to continuous vaping especially at a younger age. This will encourage them to pre-inform the younger youth about the same. As it has been many a time shared by the younger generation that listening to their peer folks or just the immediate older youth is what they prefer to than listening to their parents directly.

In places like Greenville, Portola and Quincy also very responsible principals have shown their concerns and stated in their own way the journey in educating the youth in a much simplified and effective way.

The Law is Vaping only at 21 or above

Philip Morris International, Reynolds American, British American Tobacco, and others, are not regulated to the degree that cigarettes are. These have marketed and used social media extensively to showcase vaping as a cool lifestyle. Thus youth get attracted to them.

But it’s against penal code to offer or market any tobacco, or related products to anyone who is below 21 years.

Unfolding Vaping by the Community

  • Social media is one platform through which the words of mouth that vaping is cool is influencing the innocent minds of the kids. Thus social media has to take responsible action.
  • Educating parents, teachers, administrators, institutional representatives, and the public.
  • Educating the parents to spend quality time with their kids, so that during stress time, they confide in them and become relaxed without having to depend on nicotine.
  • Coordinate with law enforcement and schools to identify and engage illegal flavored tobacco.

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