PATERSON, NJ - Vaping is not a safe way to quit, or less deadly habit than smoking, parents and students learned at roundtable discussions held by Superintendent Eileen F. Shafer on Tuesday. 

In a conversation led by Laurel Olsen, the district’s supervisor of student assistance programs, those in attendance learned that a single vape cartridge can contain as much nicotine as 20 to 30 cigarettes. 

“Many parents came here tonight believing that vaping wasn’t as serious as smoking,” said Tiffany Jacobs, a parent of five students who attend Paterson Public Schools. “Tonight’s workshop helped parents understand the truth about vaping.”

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Shafer said that the group of high school students she met with earlier in the day were just as surprised by the harmful health effects of vaping.

“The students didn’t know. They really believed that vaping is safe,” Shafer said.

According to reports 26 deaths in 21 states have been attributed to vaping devices, including one in New Jersey, and nearly 1,300 lung injuries have been reported throughout the country. 

Included in the discussion was a representative of the Coalition for a Drug Free Paterson who said that the companies that manufacture vaping pens and cartridges falsely market their products as safer than cigarette smoking, and have, in recent years, increasingly marketed them to minors more aggressively. 

“This is very alarming,” said Linda Reid of the Paterson Education Fund when she learned that the efforts were working as evidenced by a 78 percent increase in youth e-cigarette use among high school students from 2017 to 2018, and a 48 percent increase among middle school students.

“We need to get to the younger kids before these companies do to keep our children from vaping.”

Announcing that the forums were only the first steps in a large anti-vaping campaign being planned by Paterson Public Schools Shafer said that the next steps are to work with the principals and students to develop effective ways to make sure students know the truth about vaping.

“I know you’ve seen in the news stories about the number of vaping-related deaths,” Shafer told the parents. “We are racing as quickly as we can so that we can keep children from being harmed from vaping. It is an epidemic.”


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