Our Opinion: Have that talk

His heart felt as if it would pound out of his chest, the 15-year-old boy told a resource officer at a high school in Ohio last Friday. The deputy called for an ambulance to take the student to a hospital.

Two other boys, one 14 and the other 15, experienced similar distress. They saw the school nurse, then were taken to a hospital, too.

What drug had they taken? Nicotine. The three students admitted to having used a Juul nicotine vaporizer. We suspect more than a few young people have experienced similar scares.

“Vaping” is viewed by many as a relatively safe alternative to cigarettes. That, combined with the fact that nicotine vaporizer cartridges can be bought in virtually any flavor you can imagine, from cucumber to mango, make them appealing to many young people.

If you are an adult non-smoker, you may remember the first time you lit up a cigarette and took a puff. Chances are, it was not pleasant. Perhaps the experience kept you from acquiring the nicotine habit. But would things have turned out differently if, instead of a lungful of tobacco smoke, you had inhaled a cool blast of “silky strawberry?”

That is one reason public health officials are so concerned about nicotine vaporizers. Whether smoked or “vaped,” nicotine is harmful to one’s health.

As the students learned, there can be more immediate hazards. Vaporizers can deliver far higher doses of nicotine than found in cigarettes. Especially for first-time or occasional users, a few puffs of nicotine-laden vapor can increase blood pressure and heart rate, cause dizziness and headaches, even result in nausea.

So, if you are a parent or guardian, now may be a good time to talk to your children about “vaping.” Think they’re too smart to fall for fruit-flavored addiction? Think again.

Lots of children find ways to obtain nicotine vaporizers. A study by the U.S. surgeon general concluded that about 11 percent of high school seniors, 8 percent of 10th-graders and 3.5 percent of eighth-graders have tried “vaping.”

So, have that talk. It could help your son or daughter avoid far worse problems than a trip to the emergency room and an unpleasant visit to the principal’s office.

COMMENTS