Windber students learn of e-cigarette dangers

March 26, 2019

WINDBER — Students and parents took in a presentation about the dangers of vaping at the high school auditorium on Monday.

“Individuals who start vaping move to smoking,” said presenter Becca Mull, prevention coordinator at the Twin Lakes Center in Somerset. “So it’s the exact reverse of what they expected.”

Vaping is the electronic version of smoking. It is referred to as vaping because of the tiny clouds of vapor that are produced when using e-cigarettes. The devices deliver nicotine, and other substances, through a flavored liquid.

Mull indicated to an audience of about 30 people that the market for e-cigarettes has skyrocketed since 2013. She also discussed some statistics localized to Somerset County’s student population in its 11 school districts.

Among 12th-graders in the county, 30 percent had used vaping devices in the previous 30 days. Other troubling statistics were also divulged.

Nearly 14 percent of users had no idea what substance they were vaping when they took a puff. The device can be used to ingest cocaine and methamphetamine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Mull enumerated a number of things parents and educators can do to discourage e-cigarette usage. First was to learn about the risks and then discuss those things with their children or students. She suggested that they express firm expectations for pupils or kids and set a positive example by being tobacco-free themselves.

“One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that it is not safe,” Mull said before her presentation. “Just because there are less toxic chemicals than cigarettes does not mean it’s safer for you to be inhaling. There’s still chemicals and things that you’re inhaling and certain unknowns to it as well.”

Joe Kimmel, Windber superintendent, said he just wanted to educate the district’s parents, teachers and children about something that has become a growing problem for him and his fellow educators in the region.

“We hear from every school that has issues with this behavior,” Kimmel said. “Certainly it’s not illegal for them to buy when they’re 18. But obviously it’s coming into the buildings. That’s something we have to address.”