Law enforcement, health officials warn parents, students about vaping.

February 22, 2019

MSP Trooper Brittany Johnson points to the various vape pens and materials on the market during a PowerPoint Presentation.

Law enforcement, health officials warn parents, students about vaping.

#MichiganStatePolice

#HartPoliceDepartment

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART – Students and parents learned about the dangers of the latest craze of vaping during a presentation by law enforcement and health officials Thursday evening, Feb. 21, in the Hart Public Schools Auditorium.

Speakers were Sgt. Kevin Skipski of the Hart Police Department, Michigan State Police troopers Todd Goodrich and Brittany Johnson, Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon and District Health Department #10 Health Educator Katie Jourdan. Hart High School Principal Brandon Bruce and Hart Middle School Principal Kevin Ackley were also on hand to answer questions.

“This vaping thing is starting to rear its ugly head in schools nationwide,” said Skipski.

“Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor produced by a vaporizer or electronic cigarette,” stated a slide in the PowerPoint Presentation the officials used. “The vapor is produced from a material, such as an e-liquid, concentrate or dry herb. A vaporizer is an electric device that turns vaping material into vapor.”

“Created as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes are sophisticated mechanical devices designed to deliver the same highly-addictive nicotine that is in tobacco cigarettes, without the other harmful effects of tobacco,” states a pamphlet distributed at the meeting.

“Many people incorrectly believe that these devices produce a water vapor when in fact they create aerosols that contain harmful chemicals and ultra-fine particles that are inhaled into the lungs and out into the environment, making them harmful to the user and others nearby.”

Sgt. Kevin Skipski of the Hart Police Department.

Teens often use vape pens or e-cigarettes that look like ordinary household objects, such as a flash drive for a computer, preventing their parents from realizing that they are vaping.

Right now, underage vaping is not illegal in Michigan, but there is a bill that was introduced to the House of Representatives last month that would make it illegal. House Bill 4017 would “prohibit selling, giving or furnishing products and alternative nicotine products to minors.”

“Currently there is no state law that prohibits a child from having these products,” said Bizon. “For the moment, you’re left with school rules and discipline.”

Michigan and Pennsylvania are the only states in the US that currently do not have legislation in place. Bizon encouraged audience members to contact local legislators to enact the bill.

Even though vape pens are promoted as being less harmful than actual cigarettes, they are more “potent,” said Goodrich.

“When I’m on the road, I’m most concerned with what is in (the vape pen),” said Johnson. In addition to nicotine, the pens can be used to smoke marijuana. “I don’t want them driving on drugs.”

Johnson said she observed a car full of what appeared to be smoke, at first glance thinking the car was on fire. She soon discovered it was a huge cloud of vapor created by several people repeatedly vaping to create a “smoke box” in the car, which is a new trend.

“The main concern are the health ramifications for youth,” said Jourdan. “Nicotine changes brain development.” Humans’ brains continue to develop until age 25. “Nicotine changes the way the brain develops and reacts.”

Currently, there is no child-proof packaging for vape materials, Jourdan said. Poison control calls involving e-cigarettes have jumped from one call a month in 2010 to 215 a month in 2014, Jourdan said. Children under age 5 made up more than half of those cases. Explosions, which are rare, continue to injure e-cigarette users. “They still don’t know what’s causing them,” she said.

Vape pens are purchased mainly at convenience stores, vape shops and through online transactions, Jourdan said.

Skipski noted that a vape store opened on Polk Road towards Silver Lake. “It’s now in Oceana County,” he said.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

Michigan State Police Trooper Todd Goodrich addresses the audience. Also pictured are MSP Trooper Brittany Johnson and Hart Police Department Sgt. Kevin Skipski.

 

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