E-Cigarette Use Causing Spike in Tobacco and Drug-Related Offenses

Lee County schools are seeing a spike in the use of e-cigarettes and related materials.

“Juuls,” are electronic cigarettes which looks like a flash drive with a mouthpiece. Teens in Florida and across the country are using these devices to inhale, or “vape” marijuana-based compounds instead of their intended use, vaping an e-liquid with nicotine.

The fact that the devices resemble a standard computer flash drive has school officials worried because teens have easier access to drug dispensing equipment. E-cigarettes are legal for adults, designed to help them stop smoking. That makes them easier for teens to acquire the devices.

But because the device can utilize any drug-laced liquid, nicotine is only one drug which can be inhaled in this way. School officials are concerned that students can easily be exposed to addictive marijuana compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Kathy Wynne, a Lee County school district prevention specialist is particularly concerned about these devices, noting that users under 18 years old are more likely to become addicted, regardless of the drug type. “That’s why it’s so important that teens don’t start using anything,” she added.

School officials say that students use the devices everywhere: classrooms, their cars, locker rooms, and bathrooms. Because they resemble a computer flash drive, they are very difficult for teachers, aids, and others to spot.

The problem of vaping is so severe that last December, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared it to be an epidemic. According to the 2015 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, while cigarette use among middle schoolers and high schoolers has dropped, e-cigarette use and use of vaping devices among those groups has risen dramatically: a staggering 327% among middle schoolers and 410% among high schoolers. 

The survey also lists the popular ways students acquire e-cigarette paraphernalia. More than 50% of students either borrow the devices from a friend (30.9%) or simply buy them from a local convenience store, supermarket or gas station (21.9%). 10% of middle schoolers and 8% of high schoolers got someone to buy the devices for them, and astonishingly, 7.6% of middle schools and 3.5% of high schoolers got them from their parents!

For more facts on e-cigarettes: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For help with e-cigarettes and nicotine addiction in Florida: Rehab Center, Net

Article Source: News-Press, part of USA Today

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