Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

As e-cigarette use among teens grows, parents, youth invited to tobacco-free forum this week

Posted April 29, 2019 9:00 p.m. EDT

Veronica Sines smokes from a Juul vape in her home in New York, April 4, 2018. Warning that teenage use of electronic cigarettes has reached “an epidemic proportion,” the Food and Drug Administration in September 2018 gave Juul Labs and four other makers of popular vaping devices 60 days to prove they can keep them away from minors. If they fail, the agency said, it may take the flavored products off the market. (Caroline Tompkins/The New York Times)

— Tobacco use was at an all-time low in North Carolina five years ago. But after the introduction of vape products and e-cigarettes, tobacco use among high school teens has shot up 849 percent. And research shows, according to the Poe Center for Health Education, that teens who vape are more likely to start using traditional cigarettes.

To talk about the startling increase in tobacco use among teens and other issues, the Poe Center for Health Education, along with Wake County human services and schools and the American Heart Association, is sponsoring the Wake County Tobacco-Free Community Forum. It's 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Friday, May 3, at the Andrews Conference Center at WakeMed Health & Hospitals, 3024 New Bern Ave.

The program is free. Parents and teenagers are invited. In fact, some schools are sending groups of students to attend the program.

The forum will feature an expert-led review of current tobacco trends and health impacts followed by a series of panel discussions on the impacts of tobacco and ways to build tobacco-free environments. Panelists will include youth, community, municipal, education, housing, and business leaders, according to the Poe Center.

Right now, about 28 percent of high school teens are active tobacco users and more than 50 percent have tried tobacco products. And while some teens think e-cigarette products don't contain nicotine or have very little of it, that's not always true. Some e-cigarettes contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.

Even after the forum, the work will continue. Local leaders will be asked to continue to refine policies that support tobacco and vape-free communities, according to the Poe Center. Parents will be encouraged to talk to their youth about the dangers of vaping. And youth will be charged with empowering their peers with the truth of what is in vaping products and promoting vape-free norms.

Registration is required to attend. You can sign up through Eventbrite.