Va­p­ing prompts schools fo­rum, procla­ma­tion

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Leslie Postal [email protected] or­lan­dosen­tinel.com

Wor­ried so many teenagers are va­p­ing, and po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing their health, Orange County of­fi­cials are look­ing for ways to curb use of elec­tronic cig­a­rettes.

Local doc­tors and the county’s health ser­vices di­vi­sion plan to host a com­mu­nity fo­rum on va­p­ing Jan. 27. That free event in Or­lando will be geared to­ward par­ents.

The Orange County School Board this week adopted an anti-to­bacco procla­ma­tion that fo­cused on va­p­ing, say­ing it wanted to end “all use of to­bacco prod­ucts” by stu­dents and for the com­mu­nity to join that ef­fort.

In re­cent months, health or­ga­ni­za­tions have raised alarms about the dan­gers of vapes — which pro­duce a cloud of nico­tine-laced aerosol — and some school dis­tricts, in­clud­ing Semi­nole County’s, have de­cided to take le­gal ac­tion against JUUL, the com­pany blamed for va­p­ing’s pop­u­lar­ity among teenagers.

The school dis­tricts su­ing con­tend the com­pany’s prod­ucts have led to a va­p­ing epi­demic among teenagers. Each JUUL car­tridge con­tains as much nico­tine as 20 tra­di­tional cig­a­rettes, they note.

The Orange school board is not pur­su­ing le­gal ac­tion but its procla­ma­tion noted sim­i­lar con­cerns, say­ing it had to add va­p­ing to its stu­dent dis­ci­pline code in 2016.

The same wor­ries pro­moted the county fo­rum.

“When we looked at data, there’s an alarm­ing trend,” said Thomas Hall, di­rec­tor of Orange County gov­ern­ment’s drug free of­fice. “The num­bers are pretty stag­ger­ing.”

Hall cited the na­tional Mon­i­tor­ing the Fu­ture Sur­vey, which found that in 2019 use of e-cig­a­rettes had dou­bled from two years ear­lier, with 25% per­cent of high school se­niors re­port­ing they’d vaped within the past month.

As a re­sult, the Na­tional

In­sti­tutes of Health called va­p­ing a “public health cri­sis” in Septem­ber.

“These prod­ucts in­tro­duce the highly ad­dic­tive chem­i­cal nico­tine to these young peo­ple and their de­vel­op­ing brains, and I fear we are only be­gin­ning to learn the pos­si­ble health risks and out­comes for youth,” said Dr. Nora D. Volkow, the in­sti­tute’s di­rec­tor, in a state­ment.

The fo­rum’s sched­uled speak­ers in­clude sev­eral doc­tors from Ne­mours Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, who are to dis­cuss the scope of the va­p­ing problem, the health con­se­quences and how par­ents can respond.

Va­p­ing has un­done the progress health of­fi­cials made in turn­ing young peo­ple away from tra­di­tional cig­a­rettes, Hall said.

The Jan. 27 fo­rum is sched­uled for 6 p.m. at the Orange County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, 201 S. Ros­alind Ave. in down­town Or­lando.

SETH WENIG/AP

The Orange County School Board ap­proved a procla­ma­tion declar­ing it wants to end va­p­ing, and all to­bacco prod­uct use, among stu­dents.

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