Letter from Dr. Benson: How to Talk to Your Kids About the Dangers of Vaping

Dear Deerfield Parents,

I am writing to address a rising concern about the use of vaping devices (aka e-cigarettes, e-cigs Juuls, e-hookahs, vape pens etc) amongst adolescents both nationally and here at Deerfield Academy. While the rate of smoking cigarettes has decreased, the use of e-cigarettes by youth has skyrocketed since they were introduced to the US market in 2009. Due to these findings, the Surgeon General of the United States has declared vaping an emerging Public Health Threat for our youth. We do not have hard numbers regarding Deerfield student use; however, confiscation of e-cigarette devices, findings at recent disciplinary hearings and current talk on and about campus indicate a similar alarming increase in use.

These products are advertised as “safe” alternatives to cigarettes to assist adult nicotine addicts wean and quit; however the US Preventative Task Force feels there is insufficient evidence to recommend them for this use. While e-cigarettes do not contain as many harmful chemicals as a common cigarette they are by no means safe. Recent studies have shown these devices contain cancer-causing compounds and heavy metals that are inhaled along with nicotine when vaporized. Most importantly, nicotine is highly addictive and has a documented negative impact on the development of the adolescent brain.

Unfortunately these devices can easily be ordered on-line where they are advertised with fashionable covers and “skins” to make them more appealing to youth. With advertised flavors of chocolate, bubble gum and crème brulee these products appeal to adolescents who equate them more with candy than an addictive nicotine delivery system.

I am writing to ask your assistance in helping us deal with this emerging health threat to our students. Please speak with your child about the dangers of so-called “safe” vaping devices and nicotine addiction. You will find information and resources below from the Surgeon General’s office about how to talk with your kids about these devices, their harmful effects and addictive consequences.

https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/

During these discussions, if you realize your child has an issue with nicotine addiction or other substance abuse please consult with their primary care provider to get them help or have them reach out to the Health Center. Rest assured, this will be handled as a health concern and not a disciplinary matter.

As always please feel free to contact us here at the Deerfield Academy Health Center if you have any questions or concerns.

Take care and be well,

Dr. Bryant E. Benson
Director of Medical Services
Deerfield Academy Health Center
Deerfield, Massachusetts
413-774-1600

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