SODA panel discusses dangers of vaping

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The Clayton County 5C Community Collaboration Council and students from the MFL MarMac SODA (Students Opposed to Drugs and Alcohol) group met in Guttenberg on March 12 for a panel discussion focusing on the dangers of vaping. From left are Hailee Corlett, Saysha Schoulte, Jaxton Schroeder, Jonah Wille, and Mya Nelson; back, Adam Sadewasser and Matt Moser. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Clayton County 5C Community Collaboration Council is a volunteer coalition that concentrates on drug prevention and education in Clayton County. The coalition is comprised of representatives from different sectors including substance abuse, business, healthcare, law enforcement, schools, youth, parents, faith and media. 

Adam Sadewasser, Substance Abuse Services Clayton County Prevention Coordinator; Matt Moser, K-9 Deputy, Clayton County Sheriff's Department; Tracy Kregel, Community Care Coordinator, Guttenberg Municipal Hospital and Clinics (GMHC) and Students from the MFL MarMac SODA (Students Opposed to Drugs and Alcohol) group met on March 12 at the Guttenberg Public Library for a panel discussion focusing on the dangers of vaping. 

Representing the SODA teen panel were Hailee Corlett, Saysha Schoulte, Jaxton Schroeder, Jonah Wille and Mya Nelson. Seventy additional students from the Mar-Mac school district are also members of the advocacy group. 

SODA members shared their concerns and youthful insight about the teenage vaping epidemic. They noted, "We see a lot of vaping in lockers and restrooms, and in the school parking lot. Vaping has been on the rise because it is pretty easy to conceal and easy to purchase." Individuals over the age of 21 can purchase the products without repercussion. "Many kids have older family members, or friends, purchase their vape pens and cartridges," the group shared. 

A recent survey showed that 50 percent of MFL Mar-Mac students had tried vaping at some point and 40 percent continue to vape with a higher percentage becoming addicted. They reported some middle school students were vaping but not at the level of high school students. 

Federal law states an individual must be 21 years old to purchase vaping products. The state of Iowa has kept the age at 18. Deputy Moser stated, "The state of Iowa is working on a way to bring continuity and clarity to the laws. Most of the major retailers require a person to be 21." 

Sadewasser commented, "Vaping products have been on the market for about 15 years. It has been gaining popularity over the past two or three years, and we are already seeing health problems. Most of the problem is: it's too easy to hide and too easy to buy." 

Deputy Moser went on to say, "The problems arise when teens start to mix the oils with other ingredients such as THC. The CDC recently announced the discovery of a link between the lung injuries and vitamin E acetate, which sometimes is used as a diluent in THC vaping products from lower quality overseas suppliers."

Parent information

What should parents look for?

• Is your child spending extra money outside of normal expenses?

• Are they secretive or secluded?

• Are they using multiple reasons to go outside? 

•Is vaping paraphernalia left out, such as vape pens and used cartridges?

Deputy Moser said, "In my experience, kids can become pretty lazy and leave things out in plain sight. When I am in front of the school or in the parking lot I always take note of any used vape cartridges I find laying on the ground."

Sadewasser shared, "Cigarette smoke has a very distinctive odor. Vape smoke is much easier to conceal. It often smells slightly fruity or like cologne. When risk perception goes up the risk goes down."

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) vaping-related lung injuries have been linked to roughly 54 deaths and 2,506 hospitalizations. 

Approximately 80 percent of hospitalized patients used a product containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Patient complaints include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and chest pain, with some also experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, fever and fatigue.

The SODA group concluded, "There is a lot of mixed information when it comes to vaping. Many think it is not addictive. Kids try it out of curiosity. They want to fit in, and they think it is cool. It is important for parents to stay engaged with their children. Being a teenager can be pretty stressful. Some kids see drugs and alcohol as their only way out. When someone you know is trying to quit reach out to them and offer support."

The Iowa Department of Public Health offers services for individuals who wish to stop smoking. For additional information call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or online at www.quitlineiowa.org. or https://mylifemyquit.com/

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