At Barry County Substance Abuse Task Force, we are proud to say we have been successful in reaching our Barry County youth on raising awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use. Year after year, we have seen positive results growing in youth choosing not to smoke, spreading prevention messages to their peers and family members encouraging tobacco-free homes.
Vapes/Vaping, also known as electronic cigarettes, are battery powered devices that use a liquid that is heated into an aerosol and then inhaled. These devices often contain flavorings, nicotine-known to cause addiction and other health effects, and many other chemicals. The look of these devices can vary widely, resembling traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products or more like every day carry items like pens, USB memory sticks or other technology based items. While teen’s rates of smoking traditional cigarettes are declining, vaping/the use of electronic cigarettes are rising in popularity. Bright colors, fruity or candy-like flavorings, the promise of ‘looking cool’ or being ‘high tech’ in advertisements, and the growing availability of these devices all contribute to the rise in popularity. Studies show that e-cigarette/vape use among youth increases the likelihood of smoking traditional, combustible cigarettes.
Many of the health effects of E-cigarettes/Vapes are still unknown. However, early research indicates that the chemicals found in the liquids and produced in the heating process expose the lungs to a variety of harmful toxic chemicals and known carcinogens. These devices also contain low to high amounts of nicotine-the chemical that causes addiction.
In Barry County, our task force works with women to assist them in becoming smoke-free. Quitting smoking before or during pregnancy is one of the most important steps a mother can take to increase their baby's chances of a healthy lifetime.
Parents are the first line of prevention when it comes to tobacco awareness. As a parent, you hold tremendous influence over whether your child decides to smoke or not. Parents who do not discourage smoking, vapping or chew use may have an indirect influence on their children's tobacco use as well. Parents should be clear to their youth that they disapprove of smoking and should find opportunities to discuss the dangers of tobacco and smoking.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. It causes many different cancers as well as chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis, heart disease, pregnancy-related problems, and many other serious health problems. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Talk to your child(ren) about the dangers of smoking, using tobacco and vaping. This includes cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vape pens, hookahs (water pipes), smokeless and spit tobacco. Explain that tobacco use can lead to nicotine addition, oral cancer, gum disease, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
We know that youth can be drawn to smoking for any number of reasons — to try and look cool, seem tough, look older or feel independent. But as a parent, you can combat these reasons by establishing a foundation of clear rules and communication. Talk and they will hear you.
Do you need conversation starters? Ice breakers or just knowing how to have a conversation with your child about the dangers of smoking and tobacco use? We have partnered with TalkSooner, an app available for download through Apple AppStore or Google Play that will help in providing everything you need to have a productive conversation. In addition, you can visit their website for specific information on tobacco and vaping.