BLOOMINGTON, Ill.– Thursday, Bloomington High School hosted an open house for parents and students to get information regarding several available resources.
One breakout session at the open house informed parents about the dangers of vaping and the potential health risks their children could be facing.
Project Oz is a resource at the school available to kids who turn to vaping for acceptance, a distraction from challenges or addiction.
The organization’s youth specialists counsel students while trying to understand why they use e-cigarettes.
The youth specialists said the use of vape pens in schools is on the rise. Kids may think it’s harmless, but the vapor can cause major health problems.
“If they start putting that stuff inside their body it’s now starting to change their body chemistry and also their brain chemistry, that could prevent them from reaching their full potential,” school youth specialist Matt Coates said.
Prevention specialists from Project Oz said there has been an increase in the use of e-cigarettes and contributes it to advertising, vape liquid flavors and easy access.
Some advertised flavors include fruit punch, cotton candy, and mango along with several others.
The flavors may seem appealing, but the youth specialist said it contains nicotine and other cancerous ingredients.
They are working to dispel the myth that it’s harmless vapor water.
“The National Institute of Drug Abuse said 66% of teens think that it is just water vapor and it’s actually aerosol,” Project Oz prevention specialist Lisa Soliday said.
Some parents were surprised to hear the ingredients and to find out that other substances like marijuana can be used in these vape pens.
“The concentrations of…the juices, the nicotine and if they’re like doing marijuana [its] concentrations are so much higher it’s like traditional use.,” BHS parent Wesley Newton said.
Kids are getting creative; finding new ways to use e-cigarettes in school that resembles certain school supplies.
E-cigarettes can appear to be pens, highlighters, thumb drives, and even hoodie strings.
Project Oz school specialists are making efforts to understand why kids acquire the habit and hope to put an end to it.
“The first thing is to talk, find out why they have a need to do it, get support, get help, find resources to address the situation,” Newton said.
Soliday wants students to know that vaping can interrupt their journey to success.
“I’m concerned about your health. I want you to be able to live your best life and this isn’t healthy it’s not safe and it can keep you from you know reaching your goals,” Soliday said.
Bloomington school leaders counsel students who are caught vaping, but will resort to repercussions like suspension if needed.