HJ - Vaping Seminar

Page County Public Health Department’s Brandy Powers displays ecigarette devices and other information about vaping during a presentation Wednesday, Nov. 20 at Clarinda Middle School. The pop cans are not actual containers of the beverage. Those are duplicates which can be used to disguise the use of an ecigarette. (Herald-Journal photo by John Van Nostrand)

It may appear to be a computer accessory, but the contents may have nothing to do with bytes and memory.

Clarinda school district’s Parent and Community Education Support meeting held Wednesday, Nov. 20 was about vaping – the word used to describe electronic cigarettes which are growing in popularity and a cause of death.

“They were to get adults to quit smoking,” said Brandy Powers from Page County Public Health who gave the presentation. “But it was never FDA approved to make people quit smoking.”

The timing of Powers’ presentation was ideal as the Centers for Disease Control reported 47 deaths among 25 states and the District of Columbia from vaping. As of Tuesday, Nov. 19, Powers said there are 49 cases in Iowa of vaping related illness.

How it works is a battery-powered device heats a small container of a liquid, nicknamed a pod, and converts the liquid to a vapor which the user inhales. According to Powers’ research, the liquid is a combination of organic compounds, ultrafine particles, nicotine, heavy metals and flavors. A form of vitamin E has been used which has caused lung damage.

“Your gut can handle a lot,” she said. “But your lungs are only meant to handle clean air.”

Vaping side effects include cough, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, vomit, chest pain and breathing difficulty.

The liquid is not intended to be ingested, as it can cause illness and death. Powers said overdosing on vaping has happened since the effect of vaping typically takes longer for the user to feel than traditional cigarettes. Since the user does not feel the influence in a certain amount of time, more will be inhaled thinking it will decrease the time to feel the effect.

One pod of liquid is the equivalent to at least 20 traditional cigarettes.

The popularity of vaping has included people using liquid forms of THC, the element in marijuana that creates the psychoactive response.

A selling point to pods is the thousands of flavors they are made. Powers said those flavors have been appealing to youth. Juul, a brand name for e-cigarettes, pulled certain flavors off the shelf last month because of the popularity with youth. Powers said vaping is popular among area middle school and high school students. She knows of an 8-year-old in the area who has vaped.

Nicotine addiction during adolescence can alter brain development, short attention spans and impulse behaviors.

“We find out more and more every day,” Powers said about vaping and the results of vaping.

Not every e-cigarette device is the same. Some companies have made them look like other devices, from portable, computer flash drives, asthma inhalers, strings on the hood of a sweatshirt, fruit juice box, key fobs among other common items. Some of the e-cigarettes models have leaked and the liquid has caused various skin irritations and illnesses.

Sometimes it’s not the device that parents and others need to look for to know who may be vaping. Powers said the number 710 is a reference to vaping as it appears to be the word “oiL” upside down. The number 420 is also a code for marijuana use. Powers said parents should watch for both numbers on children’s possessions to help determine if a child is using either element.

“Have conversations,” Powers told the audience about parents and their children. “Put facts over emotions. Find some good information and be observant.”

The PACE meetings were held in the morning and lunch hour at Garrison House and in the evening in Clarinda Middle School Library.

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