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The Dubois County Coalition for Adolescent Resilience and Empowerment Strategies has posted about 200 “No-Vape New Year” fliers throughout county schools.

CARES volunteers put up the fliers, in both English and Spanish, mostly in the bathroom stalls at public high schools, junior highs, and middle schools during the holiday break. Forest Park Junior-Senior High is sharing the flier in its digital media.

The use of electronic vapor products is decreasing among high-school students across the country, according to the most recent National Use Tobacco Survey. At the same time, it is on the rise among students in grades six through eight. This replicates Dubois County data.

The fliers in local schools give facts about vaping and state that in the 2023 Indiana Youth Survey, 88 percent of Dubois County seventh- to 12th-graders reported never having used e-cigarettes. Those students who do vape are asked to “commit to quit” in 2024.

Vaping refers to inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device. The use is more discreet than traditional smoking as there is very little to no smoke and a small delivery device doesn’t necessarily look like a cigarette; it can be shaped like and mistaken for a pen or USB drive.

E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youths for the past 10 years.

A main attraction of e-cigarettes, also known as vapes and vape pens, to adolescents, is that the liquid that becomes the vapor is available in appealing flavors. The scents also can be mistaken for gum or body spray, adding to the difficulty in detecting them.

According to the youth tobacco survey, 85 percent of young people who vape reported using flavored devices, such as fruit, candy, mint, and menthol. The majority are attracted to the “tasty” vapes, instead of the ones that are tobacco-flavored.

Two-thirds of teen users think their vape contains only the flavor chemicals; many don’t recognize that the chemicals are not safe to inhale. They like the flavor, not realizing that they are becoming addicted to the chemicals and poisoned by the toxins.

These substances are known to adversely affect a developing brain and cause irreversible lung damage.

“There are so many dangers with vaping,” CARES Director Candy Neal said. “We all need to encourage our young people to not fall into the trap of this addiction. And we need to talk to them now, while they are in high school, middle school, even grade school.”

Among youth who reported current use of e-cigarettes, more than 1 in 4 (25.2 percent) reported using them daily and more than 1 in 3 (34.7 percent) reported using them at least 20 of the last 30 days.

In Dubois County, 8.7 percent of high-school students reported using an electronic vapor product at least once in the past 30 days, down from 10.7 percent in 2022. Among seventh- and eighth-graders here, the 2023 percent climbed to 4.3, up from 2.4 percent. These are 12- to 14-year-olds.

Research has shown that those who initiate commercial tobacco use with a flavored product are more likely to use other harmful commercial tobacco products in the future; flavored e-cigs can facilitate a lifelong addiction to nicotine.

Dubois County CARES offers resources, activities, and support to keep teens free of all substances, as well as alcohol. To learn more, call 812-827-8464 or email duboiscountycares.org. New coalition members are always welcome.

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