Dear Editor:

The recent public discussion about vaping and “Juuling” that occurred at our high school really opened the eyes of a lot of parents who may have been clueless about what their kids are doing to themselves. There is a lot of conflicting and confusing information available online, on YouTube and social media about the so-called benefits of vaping vs. smoking cigarettes.

It’s true that a recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concluded that overall, vaping is safer than inhaling burning tobacco.

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While vaping doesn’t expose the user to the carcinogens present in tobacco, it is an effective, cheap and readily available delivery system for nicotine.

Here’s a link to a detailed story on vox.com.

Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. One of the most troubling conclusions of the above report is, vaping is a gateway to long-term nicotine use, either through cigarettes or continued vaping. Nicotine is a stimulant that works on the brain over time, and not in a good way.

As a former cigarette smoker who required three tries before finally quitting for good, I can tell you it’s better to never start than to try to quit. Even today, 34 years after quitting, my lung capacity is diminished by a three-pack-a-day habit that occupied me from age 14 to 29. The rate of young people smoking cigarettes has been going down steadily, a trend that is threatened, according to the report’s findings.

The Food and Drug Administration is still figuring out how to approach vaping from a regulatory standpoint. In the state of New Jersey, it is illegal to purchase any tobacco or vaping products if you are under 21. In Fanwood, our local health department does regular checks of businesses by sending in underage people to test whether they are being sold these products. If they are, the businesses risk significant fines and the loss of their tobacco licenses.

Peer acceptance is a strong imperative for our kids and vaping seems to be one avenue towards that. In my day, it was smoking cigarettes. Until there is more information available about the long term effects, assume that substituting vaping for smoking cigarettes simply substitutes one health risk for another. Nag your kids about it. Parents and teachers are still the most important influences in their lives.

Tom Kranz
Fanwood Borough Council - Liaison to Fanwood Board of Health