Spokane school and health officials are hoping that an honest discussion Thursday night will help clear the air about youth vaping.
They couldn’t have chosen a better site: North Central High School, where doctors, health officials and students themselves will talk about one of the biggest crises facing today’s youth.
The evening-long symposium, “Cutting Through the Vapor,” begins at 5 p.m. It is open to the public.
“School and health care leaders are the perfect partners to stand with our students who are asking for help and wanting to be part of the solution,” said Shelley Redinger, Spokane Public Schools superintendent. “They are concerned about vaping and the long-term impacts it will have on their peers.”
Following a resource fair and opening remarks by North Central Principal Steve Fisk, the symposium will cover several broad topics.
Dr. Bob Lutz, a Spokane Regional Health District health officer, will discuss the evolution of vaping, its targeted marketing focus on youth, and the effects of repeated use.
He will also compare the concentration of the product to traditional cigarettes. A pack of cigarettes has 20 doses of nicotine and one JUUL Pod has 30 doses.
For parents, the highlight might be a segment called “Hidden in Plain Sight,” a discussion led by Jennifer Dorsett, a certified chemical dependency professional from Yakima.
Dorsett will lead a discussion about the signs and hints that friends or family members may be vaping, including harmless-looking items in a teenager’s bedroom.
In the next segment, “Truth Among the Vapors,” Jared O’Connor of the Washington Poison Center will talk about the chemicals commonly used in vaping devices and how poisonous they are to the body.
Attendees also will hear from those affected most: students.
From 2016 to 2018, vaping nearly doubled among the state’s sixth- and eighth-graders; use by high school sophomores almost doubled during that time period; and one-third of high school seniors admitted to vaping in the previous 30 days.
Studies also indicate that the vaping problem is worse in Eastern Washington than in the state at large.
“I’ve seen firsthand what addiction can do to families and users,” NC junior Kayla Eddy said on Nov. 8 during a press conference promoting the symposium. “But vaping isn’t about the drug. It’s about the person.”
During a wide-ranging discussion entitled “Cutting Through the Fog,” high school students will discuss their experiences and worries over vaping.
The issue has affected students at every high school as restroom stalls are filled with smoke and rendered unusable.
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