SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — It’s a growing trend, but in the eyes of school administrators, it’s now a growing epidemic. New findings reveal a massive growth in e-cigarettes along high school hallways.
This has parents in Brunswick County concerned enough to meet Monday night.
About four years ago, Stephanie Hall’s son learned about vaping.
“It became a growing issue from year, to year, to year,” said Hall.
Hall heads the parents advisory council at South Brunswick High School. Hall remembers the first conversations she had about the devices.
“I would say what are the risks and he would say ‘well there aren’t really any mom.'”
She says it took until his senior year to realize the toll it was taking. Speaking before parents and students, Hall hoped many took her message of awareness that the devices in fact have negative impacts on young minds.
In fact, the CDC considers vaping highly addictive and can harm brain development for teens.
“Yeah it was originally designed to help people who were getting off of cigarettes,” said Hall. “It was never intended for children who never even smoked.”
“We see it everyday in our schools,” said Principal Chip Hodges standing in front of a chalk board with more than a dozen e-vape devices taped on it.
Principal Hodges says finding devices of all shapes and sizes is a daily task for him and school staff.
“The vaping is what I call epidemic proportions,” said the principal.
State and health officials are agree. Many new laws or add ons to existing laws came through the 2018 General Assembly to try to have enforcement up-to-date. A National Youth Tobacco survey reported a 78 percent increase in the e-vape brand JUUL being used by teens from 2017 to 2018.
“We don’t know what these devices do to us. The uncertainty should be enough to discourage us,” said high school student Marissa Pendergast.
Students at South Brunswick recorded in a study say they access the products mostly from other friends.
“How long is it going to take for us to find out how dangerous this is for our children and will it be too late,” asked Hall.
The state director at the Tobacco Prevention and Control branch of the NCDHHS says e-cigarettes contains nicotine, possibly double that of a cigarette.
Companies like JUUL have been impacted by the FDA and Surgeon General’s crackdown on the devices getting in the hands of younger consumers. JUUL has said they are working to reduce that pull towards teenage customers.