Popularity of vaping increases concerns about local youth

Shutterstock image of woman holding a vaping device.
Shutterstock image of woman holding a vaping device.

Should members of the Fayette County community be aware of the health issues involved with vaping? Youth members of Drug Free Fayette (DFF) thought so, and recently produced a public service announcement (PSA) to get the message out about vaping that saw a 210 percent increase in Fayette from 2017 to 2018.

Drug Free Fayette Communications Manager Mariam Shakeel said the youth sector at the Drug Free Fayette organization identified the use of vape products as a critical issue being faced by the young adults of our county and responded by producing a PSA during the recent Red Ribbon Week.

Shakeel said the Center of Addiction defines vaping as an act of inhaling aerosol vapor from devices such as e-cigarettes, vape pens and e-hookahs. In order to address this concern, the DFF youth created a Public Service Announcement to raise awareness against the use of vape products in young adults, said Shakeel.

“A group of eight high school students representing each of the five Fayette County high schools went to the Georgia Teen Institute in June. At the four-day conference, they identified an issue regarding alcohol or substance abuse in their community, out of which they selected a lack of awareness about vaping as the biggest issue in high schools in Fayette County,” said Shakeel.

Commenting on having chosen vaping as a topic for the PSA, Fayette County High School student and Drug Free Fayette Coalition member Destinee H. said, “We chose vaping as a topic because we see that it is a problem in our community. Mostly because affluent people are in this county. Children in this county think vaping is cool. We asked the question (‘What do you know about vaping?’) because it is a rhetorical question that gets people thinking. The rhetoric works as in to make people think, ‘What do I really know?’ It is really to show that there are no benefits to vaping and it shouldn’t be a fad.”

Shakeel said students are witnessing the use of these products within and outside their school premises which is why the DFF youth sector identified this problem and decided to raise awareness about it.

To view the PSA visit https://tinyurl.com/y748asek.

According to a 2018 Georgia Student Health Survey, vape product use significantly increased by 210 percent in Fayette County and 85 percent in all of Georgia from 2017 to 2018.

“Not only are we seeing a staggering increase in the number of high schoolers who use e-cigarettes, we’re seeing that more and more of them have moved beyond experimentation and are using e-cigarettes almost daily,” Dr. Colleen A. Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, noting that health experts are worried that the use of vape products can affect brain development, lead to nicotine dependency and act as a gateway to the use of other drugs.

According to the Maryland Poison Center, severe symptoms of electronic cigarettes and nicotine include seizures, decreased heart rate and blood pressure.

Drug Free Fayette is a coalition of community leaders and youth in Fayette County focused specifically on reducing youth substance abuse in the county. While focused on youth substance abuse prevention, DFF aims to align with other organizations that provide treatment and recovery services, for youth as well as adults.

DFF is a confidential and reliable resource for information about substances, healthy alternatives and tools to keep families safer. DFF is supported by staff member support from two local nonprofit organizations: Fayette FACTOR (www.fayettefactor.org) and AVPRIDE (www.avpride.org)

For more information visit http://www.drugfreefayette.org/.