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Up in vapor

We are not sure how, or exactly when, vaping liquid nicotine became such a supposedly cool thing for teens to do.

At least we are not alone.

“It took us by surprise,” Nashua High School South Principal Keith Richard said during a Monday discussion about vaping, adding that he and fellow staff members thought these devices were USB chargers.

“I think we’re not prepared. Nobody has explained to young people what the impact of vaping will be,” U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., added.

During the spring, nearly half of Nashua High School North and South students reported they had tried vaping, according to an Academic Health Class Survey conducted by Nashua Prevention Coalition. The same poll found that more than 80% of students said they saw others vaping in the restrooms at school.

“When I talk to people, there’s a common assumption that vaping is harmless and it’s just water vapor, but obviously we know that’s not the case,” South senior Jeffery Lam said during the Monday discussion.

Furthermore, Johns Hopkins University’s Dr. Michael Blaha is concerned that young people who may otherwise have no interest in smoking traditional cigarettes are going to be exposed to harm from vaping.

“What I find most concerning about the rise of vaping is that people who would’ve never smoked otherwise, especially youth, are taking up the habit,” Blaha said. “It’s one thing if you convert from cigarette smoking to vaping. It’s quite another thing to start up nicotine use with vaping. And, it often leads to using traditional tobacco products down the road.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaping can create plenty of problems for those who choose to participate. The vapor can contain:

• Nicotine

• Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs

• Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease

• Volatile organic compounds

• Cancer-causing chemicals

• Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.

In our opinion, parents, educators and community leaders need to address this issue now. Young people need to understand that, unless they are interested in lung cancer or heart disease, vaping is not cool.

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