Amanda Glenn

Amanda Glenn , McLean County Public Schools, said the subject of vaping hits close to home.

McLean County Public Schools and the Green River District Health Department will team up for the school year’s first community education program.

The event, a parent information night, will discuss the facts about e-cigarettes and vaping.

Amanda Glenn, the school district’s community education director, believes this is an important topic that families should be more familiar with.

It also touches on something that Glenn feels will benefit students, including her own children.

“I have a seventh-grade son and, just kind of be, in the know (about) things that are very real,” Glenn said.

Gary Hall, health educator with the Green River District Health Department, will be leading the event.

Hall previously worked for RiverValley Behavioral Health in Owensboro before moving to the health department.

According to the health district’s summary of assessment and demographic data document, Hall notes that e-cigarette and vaping has been a consistent problem, though the rates have changed over the years.

The document notes that a total of 1,596 youths (grades 6, 8, 10 and 12) reported using vaping products on at least one day in September 2018.

In regard to the increase in e-cigarette usage in 2018, Hall said that it was about how it was marketed by the smoking companies.

“E-cigarettes went from being a complicated instrument that you usually saw young adults and older use, and the individual who invented the e-cigarette from China actually was hoping that it would be a safe alternative to cigarette smoking,” Hall said. “In the concept of harm reduction, if a lot of people think ‘well, if a person is a chronic smoker of tobacco cigarettes, would not e-cigarettes be safer?’ ”

This thinking, in turn, shifted marketing from adults to school-aged children.

Hall mentioned that one of the common e-cigarettes that the youth use is the Juul, which is easier to use because it can be charged and it’s all one piece. The nicotine in the Juul is salt-based, in which the body is able to absorb nicotine salts at a balanced rate and causes less irritation on the throat than freebase nicotine.

“A lot of time when people smoke a cigarette, they feel like they’re choking on the tobacco smoke,” Hall said. “But actually, it’s the nicotine. That’s why they added menthol to regular tobacco cigarettes, because it would (cut) down that gagging feeling from a strong dose of nicotine.”

However, Hall said that it does not mean that e-cigarettes are safer.

According to a study from Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, synthetic tobacco is devoid of carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines and other harmful substances that enter during tobacco processing, but the chemical and biological properties of nicotine are the same; thus can still be addictive and dangerous.

“Nicotine is … unbelievably powerful. In fact, most people think that it is the most addictive substance out there,” Hall said. “It’s more addictive than cocaine, methamphetamines and others. That could be true — but what we know is (nicotine) is strongly reinforced because of continual use.

Glenn hopes that parents are able to walk away from the information session feeling empowered and know what’s at risk.

The event is scheduled at 6 p.m. Sept. 13 at the McLean County Middle School media center.

For more information on the event and upcoming events, contact Glenn at (270) 273-5257 or email at amanda.glenn@mclean.kyschools.us.

Freddie Bourne, fbourne@mcleannews.com

Freddie Bourne, fbourne@mcleannews.com

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