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EARLY YEARS: Health officials worry kids heading back to school might lead to a rise in E-cigarette use

There’s now an effort to get the FDA to totally ban all flavored e-cigarettes to keep them out of the hands of kids and teens
New push to get the FDA to ban all flavored E-cigarettes that are appealing to children
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 5:55 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The return to school can also bring a return of peer pressure.

Health officials worry that could lead to more vaping among kids and teens.

For them, addiction can come quickly, and jeopardize their health and future.

School leaders say they see it firsthand.

“What happens is satisfying that addiction becomes more important than the sport or activity that they’ve been involved with since they were probably five years old. They allow themselves to be removed from that sport, because the addiction is more important to them. It meets their needs more than the sports that they love so much,” says Gregg Wieczorek, President of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

One big reason kids get hooked-- the appealing flavors of E-cigarettes.

There’s now an effort to get the FDA to totally ban all flavored E-cigarettes- especially big sellers like JUUL.

The FDA has a critical deadline of September 9 to decide which vaping products can stay on the market; some could be put out of business entirely.

“There are about 6.5 million different products that have applied for approval with the FDA and the FDA has a real opportunity to just say these are not promoting any public health issue,” says Laurie Rubiner, Executive Vice President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

She says E-cigarette products are easy for kids to hide.

“Kids bring these into school. They look like a flash drive. Nobody - parents and educators often can’t tell that these are in their backpacks. They’re in their pencil cases,” says Rubiner.

Just one cartridge has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.

Health officials point out kids also share them, an added risk during COVID. For parents, there are warning signs of e-cigarette use to be on the lookout for.

“For parents, students are more withdrawn. If they’re spending more time in their bedrooms, if they have a change of friends, " says Wieczorek.

Another big reason health officials are sounding the alarm about kids and e-cigarettes: The Surgeon General says using nicotine in adolescence can increase the risk of addiction to other drugs later in life.

Communication between parents and kids is key to prevention.

“I think open lines of communication are so important for any difficult situation. I had a teenager once, she’s a lot older now, but I think keeping those open lines of communication and talking about things that you’re in partnership with your child on any difficult thing,” says Rubiner.

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