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Tobacco Prevention News

It’s back to school with all of the kids excited about catching up with old friends and making new ones. School projects, events and sports are just a few of the things that come to mind. As the new school year approaches, parents of middle schoolers and teens have a variety of things to consider ensuring their child is ready for school.

Keeping kids from using tobacco and nicotine products might not seem as serious as other issues in today’s world. In fact, some parents may feel that smoking or other tobacco use is a “rite of passage” and that kids who start will outgrow the behavior as they get older. However, once teens start using tobacco and nicotine in any form, including vaping products, they can quickly become addicted, and that addiction can lead to a lifetime of serious health problems.

One thing to watch out for is the high rate of our youth that are vaping and starting as early as middle school age. E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among Montana teens. More than half of Montana High school students have tried e-cigarettes or vaping and one in three currently vape on a daily basis.

E-cigarettes are called a lot of things, such as vapes, mods, e-hookahs, vape pens, tank systems and JUULS. They heat a liquid into an aerosol (not into vapor) that is inhaled into the user’s lungs. This aerosol is not harmless water. What is inhaled and exhaled from the device contains harmful substances such as nicotine or ultra-fine particles that can be inhaled into the lungs. Flavorings known as diacetyl are chemicals linked to a serious lung disease. Cancer causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead are also found in vaping devices.

Nicotine is addictive and, in any form, unsafe for the development of the youth brain. Nicotine can also prime the brain for addiction to other drugs in the future.

But let’s bring this closer to home. According to the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey 35 percent of youth attending middle school and 52 percent of high school students in Roosevelt County have ever tried vaping. Twenty-one percent of youth attending middle school and 34 percent of high school teens in Roosevelt County reported vaping in the past 30 days. Approximately two-thirds of middle and high school students reported they have tried quitting tobacco use in some capacity in the past 12 months.

To help keep your children from starting to use tobacco or vaping products, some important steps you can take include:

• Talk with your children about how addictive and dangerous tobacco use and vaping can be

• Make your home and your vehicles tobacco-free for everyone, friends and guests as well as family members

• Tell your children you expect them to be tobacco free.

• Ask your child’s doctor to discuss health issues caused by tobacco use including nicotine addiction and how vaping could potentially affect someone if they were to contract COVID-19

• Encourage your children to be involved in activities at school, church, or in the community.

• Don’t let your children see movies, TV programming, or video games that show tobacco use.

• Find out where your community stands on policies known to reduce tobacco use by youth, such as schoolbased tobacco bans, smoke free policies, and high prices on tobacco products.

• Set a good example by not using tobacco yourself.

For questions on how to quit tobacco products including electronic cigarettes, contact A.J. Allen, Tobacco Education Specialist for Roosevelt County at 406-653-6212.

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