Whether it’s kids twirling fidget spinners or eating Tide pods, there is never a dull moment in the world of parenting. Trends seem to spring from nowhere.
Of course some of these trends, like popping a Tide pod in your mouth, aren’t as innocent as others.
We’ve come a long way from when Motley Crue recorded “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” and even longer since the original Brownsville Station release in 1973. Although I am not going to hold my breath for an Alabama Shakes rendition of “Vapin’ in the Boys’ Room,” e-cigarettes are an emerging concern at some schools, where there are reports of students openly vaping in hallways and bathrooms.
E-cigarettes use battery power to convert liquid nicotine – often with the addition of flavorings – into a vapor that the user inhales, without the fire, ash or smoky smell of regular cigarettes.
Vaping is something I have just never thought much about. My understanding was that e-cigarettes were tools to help some smokers quit the nicotine habit or at least have a healthier alternative. There is some evidence this is effective, according to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
However, the Center also indicates that for those who are not smokers to begin with, the long-term risks of vaping are not worth the momentary enjoyment. These risks include:
- Damage to the brain, heart and lungs
- Cancerous tumor development
- Preterm deliveries and stillbirths in pregnant women
- Harmful effects on brain and lung development, when use occurs during fetal development or adolescence
This may be of special concern to educators and parents because vaping has increased exponentially among teenagers even as smoking cigarettes has declined, according to recent studies.
One of those studies found that in 2011, just 1.5 percent of high school students had used an e-cigarette in 2011. But a report released in December 2017 and sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 16.6 percent of high school seniors had used a vaping device.
Although most vaping devices are sold with nicotine, not all vapers are using nicotine in their devices.
A New York Times article from December took a look at the issue and indicated that a majority of students said they were just vaping the flavoring. Right, of course they are.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has a handy guide for parents on the various types of e-cigarettes and vaping devices.
One of the concerns brought forth by school administrators with whom I work, is that it really isn’t clear exactly what drugs or chemicals students may be putting into their vaping devices, and there isn’t an easy way to find out.
Another concern, as expressed by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, is that nicotine is still a highly addictive, dangerous drug, no matter how it is ingested. There is also evidence that vaping may actually lead young people back to traditional cigarettes at a time when great progress has made in steering them away.
If having kids eat Tide pods and vape wasn’t enough to think about, the other day I watched a video on YouTube of a young fella vaping a Tide pod. It didn’t end well, but his video had a lot of ‘likes.’
Jake Palmateer is a public information specialist for Capital Region BOCES. He is the father of a 7-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter. Their adventures include camping, hiking, metal detecting, painting, stargazing, reading, fishing, soccer, mowing the lawn and baking cupcakes.