This October, Northeast Metro Tech School Resource Officer Michael Pietrantonio, in partnership with Wakefield Public School Resource Officers Jason Skillings and Kelley Tobyne, wishes to caution the school community against vaping.
On Sept. 24, 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker declared a public health emergency in response to the outbreak of severe lung disease associated with e-cigarettes and vaping products and the epidemic of e-cigarette use among youth. While the national investigation has not yet identified a specific e-cigarette, vaping product or substance that is linked to all cases, a common factor is a history of e-cigarette use and vaping. This led the Governor to declare this public health emergency.
According to the State Public Health Department, “potential and probable cases have been coming into the State Public Health Laboratory at an alarming rate– on average of 5-10 per day since it was made a reportable condition just a short time ago. Massachusetts is taking this action now because it is prudent to respond quickly, before we have large numbers and deaths”.
With the goal of protecting the health of Massachusetts residents, and in accordance with Governor Baker’s public health emergency declaration, Dr. Monica Bharel, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, issued the following order:
“The sale or display of all vaping products to consumers in retail establishments, online, and through any other means, including all non-flavored and flavored vaping products, including mint and menthol, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and any other cannabinoid, is prohibited in the Commonwealth”.
Youth use of e-cigarettes
Current use of electronic nicotine delivery products (e-cigarettes and other vaping devices) by Massachusetts high school youth was 20% in 2017, and 41% of high school students reported ever using e-cigarettes. Current use of electronic cigarettes is almost three times greater than the current use of cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco combined, at 11.4%, according to a 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
In 2017, 9.9% of middle school students had ever-tried e-cigarettes. Ever-use of electronic nicotine delivery products was almost two times greater than ever-use of cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco combined, at 5.8%, according to a 2017 Massachusetts Youth Health Survey.
Black Market Vaping Products
The Black Market on vaping products is a booming business and is also how most of the youth obtain their nicotine or THC vaping oils, according to an article in the Washington Post “Potential culprits in mystery lung illnesses: Black-market vaping products” by Rob Kuznia. Counterfeit vape materials from China, are coming under scrutiny as federal authorities investigate the mysterious vaping-related lung illness that has sickened at least 530 people in 38 states and claimed nine lives. Many sick patients said they bought vape products containing THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, on the black market, officials and clinicians said. The biggest legal marijuana market in the world is California — and the black market there is three times as big, according to David Abernathy, an executive with Arcview Market Research, a cannabis investment and market research firm.
How can we help our youth addicted to nicotine?
Talking with our children about our concerns and educating them on the real risks of nicotine or what buying products on the black market can do is a step in the right direction.
There are medicines which can improve the chances of quitting. MassHealth covers these FDA-approved medicines, and many other plans offer them for free or at low cost with a prescription. If you have a child under the age of 18 who might need help quitting, talk to their pediatrician about whether a prescription for one of these quit-smoking medicines is right for them.
Combining medication with coaching support can triple your chances of success. So call the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free advice and support. It’s confidential and is available in multiple languages.
The following are some national resources for teens who are interested in quitting smoking or vaping:
- My Life, My Quit is a specially designed program to help young people quit vaping or other tobacco products. My Life, My Quit provides five free and confidential coaching sessions by phone, live texting, or chat with a youth coach specialist. Text “Start My Quit” to 855-891-9989 or call toll-free 1-855-891-9989 for real-time coaching. Youth can also visit mylifemyquit.com to sign up online, chat with a live coach, get information about vaping and tobacco, and activities to help them quit.
- This is Quitting powered by Truth is a texting program for young people who want to quit vaping. It is a free, confidential 60-day program during which participants receive texts with information, tips, and support. They receive daily text messages to help them prepare to quit and supportive texts from young people who have been through the program and know what it’s like to quit. They can also text “CRAVE,” “SLIP,” “STRESS,” or “MORE” at any time for instant support, or “MASSINFO” for information specific to Massachusetts. Young people can sign up even if you they aren’t ready to quit – the texts they receive will give them strategies and practice quits to help build confidence and help them feel ready to quit. To enroll in the program, youth text “VapeFreeMass” to 88709. Youth can also connect with their school nurse, counselor, or coach to help get them started