Superintendent’s community forum provides wealth of information on vaping

About 300 parents/guardians and Newton Public Schools staff attended Superintendent Fleishman’s community forum on vaping on April 2, 2019. The speakers were as follows:

  • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (keynote)
  • Jonathan Winickoff, MD, MPH (panelist)
  • Jodie Cohen, science teacher, Newton North (panelist)
  • Brian DeLeskey, MSW, LICSW, prevention/intervention counselor, Newton South (panelist)
  • Beth Teitell (moderator)

Key points

  • Smoking rates had gone down significantly thanks to tobacco education, but vaping is on the rise. Data from the Centers for Disease control indicates that the national youth use numbers have doubled this year—from 11 percent to 22-24 percent.
  • Until recently, AG Healey was being called to speak about the opioid crisis; now she is hearing more concerns about vaping. 
  • The nicotine in electronic cigarettes is highly addictive. 
  • Teens can buy debit cards at places like CVS and use the cards to order vaping products online. 
  • E-cigarettes are a $2 billion industry. Juul, which was started in 2015, now controls two-thirds of the industry. 
  • Adults should talk with young people EARLY about the dangers of vaping, be observant, and confront what they see. 
  • The teen brain is uniquely vulnerable to nicotine addiction; vaping as a teen may lead to lifelong addiction. Reward centers develop before control centers. 
  • All Juul products contain nicotine, even if the packaging says 0 percent.
  • Teens can get addicted very fast, even after using half a pod.
  • Addicted teens need to use a pod a day at a cost of about $4/day; they often get the money from their parents. 
  • The number one flavor in Newton is mint. 
  • Repeated activity creates an imprint in the teen brain. 
  • Teens need healthy coping skills. Attending school and participating in sports and other activites are protective.
  • Teens use e-cigarettes to gain acceptance by peers, because products are available, and because of masterful marketing by companies. 
  • Signs of vaping may include a fruity scent, irritability, thirst, and bloodshot eyes.
  • Latency is a time interval between the stimulation and response; latency shortens until users need to use more and more often.
  • There have been 51 suspensions for vaping at Newton North this year—half freshmen. Newton North and Newton South both have cessation groups. 
  • Juuling is socially acceptable but that needs to change. 
  • Newton North revised its chemical health policy in spring 2018. 
  • Teens and families need to be educated. Towns need to change laws.

Watch the forum here. 

Find resources here.

Hear a follow-up story here: wgbh.org/news/local-news/2019/04/03/parents-renew-worry-over-teen-vaping-as-former-ag-coakley-heads-to-juul