FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) —The statistics involving kids and vaping are getting more and more concerning.
It’s an issue every parent should be aware of before sending their kids to school this year.
In Indiana, e-cigarette usage increased 400% in high schoolers and 360% in middle schoolers from 2012 to 2018.
MaryClare Clark, the President and CEO of the Allen County Drug and Alcohol Consortium, says vaping among young people is becoming an epidemic.
“The youngest we’ve seen in surveys is probably a fourth grader,” MaryClare Clark said.
Clark says the multi-million dollar companies like JUUL should be taking a bulk of the fault of getting kids addicted.
“From the beginning, the flavors they were using, the way they were marketing. They were marketing to a younger population because they know this younger population, this Gen Z that’s out right now is at this critical age of decision making and things that impact them for the rest of their lives and that group does not want to smell like cigarettes,” MaryClare Clark said.
Parents like Jana Clark, who has five kids ranging from 15 to 24 says that is the appeal to young kids. Vaping can be very discreet and done covertly in schools.
“My kids will come home with stories of students vaping in class. You know, just nonchalantly up the sleeve of their hoodies kind of looking like they are taking of drink of their water bottle or whatever, but they’re really taking a puff off their vape. They’ll exhale the vaper back down,” Jana Clark said.
Jana Clark believes her kids haven’t used it, but as a parent, she says you can never be too sure.
“I’m going to be real honest, I say they’ve never used it, but I don’t know 100% if they’ve ever tried it because it is prevalent among young youth and, I mean, if they’re hanging out with friends they might know it’s not a healthy thing, but I’m not sure they wouldn’t try it.” Jana Clark said.
Clark says they are working with local schools to develop strategies as an alternative to suspension or expulsion for students who are caught vaping.
“We are looking at a more educational and supportive approach. When we really think about it, these kids are being marketed to specifically. They are a ploy to a huge multi-million, billion dollar machine that knows how to get them addicted to a substance.” said MaryClare Clark.