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School officials warn of sneaky vaping devices

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School officials are seeing an increased use of electronic smoking devices among students in Medina County and are sounding the alarm in regards to a growing trend known as vaping.

Wadsworth Superintendent Andrew Hill brought awareness to the situation with a recent districtwide email targeting parents, staff and community members. He linked two photos and challenged adults to find the vaping devices.

“We try to do our best as a district to raise awareness to different things for our community and we just felt like with what we are seeing and the use of those devices that it was something we felt we should bring some attention to,” Hill said Thursday.

According to the nonprofit Center on Addiction, vaping is defined as “the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.”

Cloverleaf Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said in an email Wednesday the school district has seen a 300 percent increase in vaping among students from last year.

“Our high school administration has worked with our teachers to understand and identify the multitude of vaping devices available on the market,” Kubilus said in the email.

The use of tobacco products, including vaping devices is prohibited by both districts, and both Hill and Kubilus said their districts have made efforts to educate staff about the different electronic-smoking devices available.

Hill’s email also brought attention to just how similar vaping devices can look to other electronic devices such as phone chargers or flash drives.

“Just because something looks like a thumb drive doesn’t necessarily mean it is,” Hill said.

Libby Thomas, health educator and certified tobacco treatment specialist with the Medina County Health Department, said in an email Wednesday that according to the 2017 Medina County Needs Assessment, 14 percent of Medina County youth in grades 6-12 reported using e-cigarettes in the past year of that survey.

“Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 20.8 percent of high school students reported using an electronic cigarette in the past 30 days in 2018,” Thomas said. “The rate of this was 1.5 percent in 2011.”

Hill said that while he was not aware of exactly how much vaping has increased among students, he is aware that there has been an increase.

“I can just tell you we have seen an increase in students who are bringing those devices and/or vaping in school,” Hill said.

Thomas said the array of “kid-friendly” vape flavors on the market is appealing to students, and medical professionals do not yet know the long-term health consequences of vaping.

Thomas said nicotine, which is in various vaping products, is known to cause harm to the developing brain of an adolescent and is highly addictive.

“There are chemicals that have been found in electronic cigarette aerosol that are known cancer causing chemicals and can reach far into the lungs,” Thomas said.

Unintentional injury, such as exploding batteries is also possible, Thomas said.

Thomas said it is important for parents to take the time to understand the harmful effects of vaping, and information is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.

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