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Parents can learn vape-prevention tactics in virtual event Tuesday

A person smokes a Juul Labs electronic cigarette in this arranged photograph.  (Bloomberg)
A person smokes a Juul Labs electronic cigarette in this arranged photograph. (Bloomberg)

Parents can get tips on how to prevent kids from vaping and learn more about the health risks of electronic cigarettes at a free online session Tuesday.

E-cigarette devices – also called vapes, e-cigs, tank systems or mods – heat a liquid that typically has nicotine, flavorings and chemicals to create an aerosol.

Panhandle Health District partnered with Parents Against Vaping e-Cigarettes, PAVe, a national advocacy and education group, to offer the event, “Ask the Experts: Youth Vaping, Health Harms and How to Speak with Your Child.” It starts at 5:30 p.m.

“Vapes often contain flavor that kids find appealing, but unfortunately, they also often contain high levels of nicotine and other chemicals that are harmful to children,” said Lindsey McCurdy, youth health educator for Panhandle’s vaping prevention programs.

People can register on the regional health district’s events page at, which offers a Zoom link.

Three speakers are scheduled: Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, director of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Tobacco Treatment Clinic; Jade Harkness, pulmonary function technician and respiratory therapist at Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho; and Mimi Boublik, PAVe founding partner. They’ll also answer questions.

Panhandle’s goal with the program is to educate parents and youth leaders, and also inspire residents to form a regional PAVe chapter, McCurdy said.

As with regular cigarettes, the nicotine inside an e-cigarette is addictive. Vape devices also contain chemicals linked to lung disease, volatile compounds and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead, the agency says.

In February 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 2,807 cases in the U.S. of e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury, and 68 deaths attributed to that condition.

The CDC says e-cigarettes use is unsafe for kids, teens and young adults. It can harm adolescent brain development, which continues until about age 25.

In 2018, one in five high school students reported using e-cigarettes in a one-month period, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, which offers a CDC parent tip sheet. It encourages parents to talk to kids about e-cigarettes and harmful effects through open dialogue. Adults might bring up the topic if they see someone using an e-cigarette, go near an e-cigarette shop or view a vaping ad while a young person is present.

Other hints include asking a health care provider to talk to a teen about e-cigarette risks. Around questions youth might ask about e-cigarettes, the CDC sheet offers suggestions:

Q: Why don’t you want me to use e-cigarettes?

A: Science shows that e-cigarettes contain ingredients that are addictive and could harm different parts of your body. Right now, your brain is still developing, which means you are more vulnerable to addiction. Many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and using nicotine can change your brain to make you crave more nicotine. It can also affect your memory and concentration.

Also, e-cigarettes contain chemicals that are harmful, and you can breathe in tiny particles that can harm your lungs. The cloud that people exhale from e-cigarettes can expose you to chemicals.

Q: What’s the big deal about nicotine?

A: Your brain is still developing until about age 25. Nicotine is addictive and can harm your brain development. Using nicotine at your age may make it harder for you to concentrate, learn or control impulses. Nicotine can even train your brain to be more easily addicted to other drugs.

Q: Aren’t e-cigarettes safer than conventional cigarettes?

A: Because your brain is still developing, studies show that it isn’t safe for youth to use any tobacco product that contains nicotine, and many e-cigarettes have nicotine. There are other chemicals that can be harmful. Some e-cigarette batteries have exploded and hurt people.

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