More Jersey teens using e-cigarettes, thinking they’re safe
Teens are smoking fewer cigarettes, drinking less alcohol and not taking as many opioids — but their use of electronic cigarettes is on the rise, according to a new survey.
The Monitoring the Future report, based on questioning almost 45,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12-graders in New Jersey and across the nation, found the number of students using e-cigarettes increased by 78 percent last year.
The report does not give a state-by-state breakdown, but according to a recent youth tobacco survey almost 10 percent of New Jersey teens are using e-cigarettes.
Debra Wentz, president and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, said she believes more kids are using e-cigarettes because they’re being misled.
“They believe vaping is safe, and also because of the appealing flavors that are available with the e-cigarettes,” she said.
She said electronic cigarettes and JUUL-style devices contain nicotine and other chemicals that adversely affect brain development through age 25, and can have a negative impact on learning, memory and attention.
Wentz pointed out e-cigarettes can also be used to inhale other drugs, including marijuana.
She stressed there is a great deal of misconception and myth being circulated about vaping being safe, especially with teens, “and we need to educate our youth.”
She said efforts must be stepped up to inform teens about the hazards posed by e-cigarettes.
Wentz said parents should talk to their children about this, and “on every ad, just like with tobacco, warnings need to accompany them.”
While the New Jersey Department of Education requires health education classes be part of the regular curriculum, it is up to each individual school district to determine how the issue of vaping and e-cigarettes is addressed.
Some districts have started including information about the dangers posed by e-cigarettes in material that is taught, and districts have also started banning the use of all electronic smoking devices on school grounds.