Recently, ADAPT staff members held meetings with our peer leaders from cities throughout Essex County. During the meetings, the leaders were very candid and shared drug and alcohol related issues affecting them and their peers in their area.

One common theme that consistently arose from these meetings was the use of electronic cigarettes, commonly known as e-cigs, and vaporizer pens, commonly known as vape pens, in local schools and throughout the community. This information coincides with a recent NPR report that discussed the use of marijuana through vaporizer pens in middle and high schools throughout the country. In our focus groups, the teens stated that many of the students get away with this because the e-cigs and vape pens can be easily confused for a standard pen. Unfortunately, many of these students taunt other students and authority figures in the schools by blowing smoke in the hallways, sometimes directly into the face of their peers.

As we continued to research this issue in our local area, we found that many parents and professionals are not aware of this new trend and the uses of the e-cigs and vape pens. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that contain a liquid nicotine solution, which are sometimes mixed with flavors (i.e., chocolate, mint). When using the device, the liquid solution turns into a vapor that looks like smoke. Vape pens are similar to e-cigs but they give the user the ability to add their own special dry blends, oils, or waxes rather than the nicotine solution. As mentioned above, many individuals use a marijuana concentration called “hash oil” in their vape pens, which means that students could be openly using marijuana while on school property.

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With this newfound information, ADAPT would like to take the opportunity to better equip the community, especially school administrators and staff members. As per an amendment to New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Act (P.L. 2009, c.182), the state of New Jersey considers electronic smoking devices (i.e., e-cigs, vape pens) the same as any other tobacco product. Therefore, individuals are prohibited from using them in indoor public places. In addition, it is illegal to sell these products to any individual under 19 years of age.

ADAPT recommends that school officials review their smoking policy and, if needed, amend the policy to include electronic smoking devices. Along with this, ADAPT can help with awareness campaigns in the local area to educate parents and community members about this new trend.

ADAPT is here to help you learn more about e-cigarettes, tobacco use among teens, and ways to make a difference within your home and community.  Contact us and request more information or tips on having these discussions.

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