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Parents, youth need to be educated about e-cigarettes and JUUL

This week, we took a closer look at the statistics and dangers surrounding the growing trend of youth who are using e-cigarettes, particularly a form of vaping product called JUUL.
It is no surprise youth today are still pushing boundaries like many generations before them, particularly when it comes to partaking in substances the law says they shouldn’t.
Still, with the many long-term effects that remain unknown from e-cigarettes, many people debate whether they are the healthier choice compared to their counterpart, or just another gimmick by the tobacco companies to get people smoking and hooked at a younger age.
Before I go much further, I want to state for the record that I am a former smoker. I tried my first cigarette in eighth grade, although did not take a puff again until I was 19 and after which, like many, I was hooked for years.
I’ve quit countless times throughout the years and would be lying if I said I didn’t regret that moment when I was 19 and allowed myself to purchase my first pack.
Some people try and hide their faults once they are a part of their past. I, however, don’t believe in mistakes ­— for it is the mistakes that make us who we are if we choose to learn from them and not turn back.
I’m not saying I am perfect and haven’t stumbled over that addiction throughout the years, but I am knowledgeable of the effect nicotine addiction has and how it can grab ahold of you at a young age while you think you are indestructible.
This was much my reason for wanting to focus on the trend in society today and write the article featured this week on the front page.
I have smoked vaporizing products and traditional cigarettes, and I must say, the trend of the vape pen is most alarming to me. I thought so almost 12 to 15 years ago when I first saw them on the market.
In a society like California, vape pens were pushed as a healthy option.
It probably isn’t a surprise to most, but not many people smoke on the west coast. At least not tobacco that is. And being outnumbered by non-smokers made the regular partakers pick up vape pens when they landed on the market to show how much healthier they were being. Still, I wasn’t buying it.
Then came the flavors. I remember the first time a neighbor next to us had a pina colada vape flavor and all I could think of was how delicious that sounded. But, if it sounded that way to me, it probably did to the younger crowd who would gravitate to it easier and get hooked younger.
I know for a fact if these products were around when I was in junior high it would have, and I’d be willing to bet at least double the kids at school would have been smokers, if not more, if they had access to vape pens and their flavors.
What disturbs me even more though, is when my 14-year-old daughter comes home from eighth-grade and tells me parents are buying JUUL pods for their kids as a form of reward for doing good in school. Completely shocked, I believe I asked her more than once to repeat herself because I could not believe what I was hearing.
“Oh yeah,” she told me. “The kids tell the parents they don’t have any nicotine in them and they are just flavors and the parents believe them. Or, they (parents) don’t care and they are just doing it anyway.”
Excuse me, but what kind of parent would knowingly buy a product with nicotine, or without for that matter, to help their kid stimulate the function of smoking? My mind is still blown by this revelation, and I am still finding it hard to wrap my brain around my daughter’s disturbing revelation.
Thinking about walking into a store and buying my kid a device that helps them “act” like a smoker, regardless of if it has nicotine in it or not, would never be anything I could or would even consider.
All things aside, through my research with this article, what I found is there is a very different view on the subject from students, parents, vapor shops and local health departments.
In the end, only you can decide what is right for you and your child. I just hope everyone takes the time to educate themselves.
My hope is today’s article can shed some light on the growing trend and the need to educate those around us, regardless of their age.

Brittany Fuller is the community editor of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. She can be reached at brittany.fuller@jessaminejournal.com.