Parents learn vape trends at THS Parent University

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Electronic cigarettes and vaping are, by far, the most-used tobacco products among youth today, and the trend is rapidly rising, according to speakers at Thompson High School’s Parent University hosted by Compact 2020 on the night of March 7.

During the event, which was held in the THS Performing Arts Center, UAB Youth Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Abigail Duemler gave parents an update on the latest developments surrounding vape use among teens.

From 2017 to 2018, there was a 78-percent increase nationwide in teen vaping, meaning more than 20 percent of high school students nationwide now vape regularly, Duemler said. Some popular vape products, such as JUUL, contain as much nicotine as one pack of cigarettes per pod.

“The adolescent’s brain appears uniquely susceptible to nicotine addiction, setting young people up to form an addiction to nicotine, and develop an addiction very quickly,” Duemler said.

She said vape usage can lead to short-term increases in cough and wheezing, and predicted long-term vape effects will be similar to the long-term effects of cigarettes once doctors are able to gather enough data on vaping over the next several years.

Duemler encouraged parents to seek information on vaping from credible sources such as the CDC, to set a tobacco-free model at home, to talk to their kids and let them know it’s not OK to use vape and to “advocate for policies that make making the right choice the default.”

Duemler was one of the featured speakers during the Parent University, which also featured Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon, Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney and Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers as speakers and information tables from area nonprofit organizations.

The event also featured youth panels featuring members of the THS Peer Helpers and the Alabaster Teen Council addressing the major causes of stress among students and the prevalence of vape usage among teens.

Peer Helpers who took part on the panel on major causes of stress were Kaleah Johnson, Kaelyn Barnett, Bella Lozito, Holly Stokesbary, Diane Mwai and Kat Hall.

Teen Council members who participated in the panel on vape use among teens were Abby Schmidt, Ryleigh Hughes, Addison Lusco, Anna Kate Church, Riley Ward and Abby Grace Walker.