The state health department is concerned by the number of high school students using vaping products in North Dakota.
A ND Youth Risk Behavior survey conducted in 2017 had 21 percent of high school students identifying themselves as vape product users, and Neil Charvat, Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Director, NDDoH said around 3 percent of high school students identified themselves as users in 2011.
Last Spring Dickinson School resource officers issued about 15 citations to students for using vaping devises and so far this year that number has increased.
“We are up to 25 citations for the school district,” said Sgt. Brandon Stockie, Dickinson School Resource Officer.
Sgt. Stockie also its just not high school kids who are using it.
“I think we caught a fifth grader. . . the lowest we caught. . . its been mostly found in middle school and high school students”.
Sgt. Stockie said vaping is popular with teens, because the nicotine cartridges come in an assortment of fruity flavors, and the devices are easy to conceal, looking similar to a flash drive.
Dickinson’s assistant high school principal is disturbed by the way the vaping products have been marketed and designed.
“That purpose alarms me. It is super hard to detect. It smells like cherry lip gloss, cherry lotion or any type of thing like that, ” said Jay Hepperle, assistant principal Dickinson High School
Charvat said Juul represents about 60 percent of the e-cigarette market, and one little Juul pod is equal to about one pack of cigarettes.
“. . . they have five times the concentration of nicotine as a regular cigarette. The most addictive part of a cigarette is the nicotine,” said Hepperle.
Charvat and the state health department are concerned with the potential health risk vaping can cause to a developing teenage body.
“Some of these products have the similar affects regarding cancer causing agents that cigarettes do. They have the same chemicals in them . . the cardiac issues, increasing blood pressure,” said Charvat
Sgt Stockie added, “It took us years and years to figure out what tobacco does . . so we don’t know what vaping will cause”.
To address the spike in underage teenage smoking with e-cigarettes, Kevin Burns the CEO of Juul Labs said in a press release earlier this month:
“As of this morning, we stopped accepting retail orders for our Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber JUUL pods to the over 90,000 retail stores that sell our product, including traditional tobacco retailers (e.g., convenience stores) and specialty vape shops. . . . We will now make Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber available only on JUUL.com, where we are adding additional age-verification measures to an already industry-leading online sales system that is restricted to people 21+ and utilizes third party verification”.
Sgt. Stockie said the main thing he is doing right now is educating students about the health risks in school forums and getting parents involved.
“I think it is a matter of educating parents as well so they know what they look like”.
An underage Dickinson High school student caught using a vaping device on school grounds could face up to three days of in school suspension, and a $100 fine from the police department.