LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — 27,000 middle and high school students returned to class Monday morning for in-person hybrid learning after more than a year of learning from home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Representatives with The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes said they worry children will begin to experiment or return to vaping electronic cigarettes after they get out of the watchful gaze of their parents.
Youth e-cigarette use doubled between 2017 and 2019, according to both groups, and Dorian Fuhrman with Parents Against Vaping said she fears those numbers could return as older kids head back to classes.
"We're very concerned," she said.
Fuhrman said most parents are aware of what a cigarette looks like and smells like, but e-cigarettes can be more deceptive.
During a Zoom interview, she held up a colorful pink rectangle and a USB shaped device as examples of how diverse and unusual the e-cigs could be.
"Colorful devices like theses which look like markers or wires or colorful plastic caps or chargers that you have never seen before," she said.
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids President Matthew warned that kids are often attracted to the fruity flavors and soothing sensation in the vapor, and the "smoke" is easier to inhale than tobacco smoke.
He said there is also far more nicotine in many electronic cigarettes leading to faster and more aggressive addiction.
"These products deliver unprecedented levels of nicotine," he said, "which not only leads to more rapid and more intense addiction. We have to remember the adolescent brain is still developing."
In addition to effects on the developing brain, Myers said vaping can have detrimental effects on the lungs potentially leading to lifelong issues.
"Start the conversation early," Fuhrman said. "Kids can begin vaping as young as ten years old."
She said parents should keep an eye out for any unusual USB shaped objects, question any fruity scents that may be on or around your children, and also pay attention to any child's mood as attitudes can swing wildly as a result of nicotine addiction.