SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School hosted a symposium on Monday, Nov. 4, about one of the major youth health issues of our time: the dangers of vaping.

Although it has been around for over a decade, vaping’s popularity exploded in 2017, taking many families, schools and healthcare providers by surprise, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Vaping, or Juuling (named after a popular vape device called JUUL), is the inhaling and exhaling of an aerosol produced using a vape device.

Vape devices, known as e-cigs, e-hookahs, vape pens, vapes, and Juuls, contain four basic components: a cartridge to hold e-liquid ("vape sauce"), a heating element, a battery, and a mouthpiece to inhale. The device triggers the battery to supply electricity to the heating element, which vaporizes the e-liquid and produces the vapor to be inhaled.

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Nearly one in three high school seniors tried vaping in the past year. This growth stems from advertising geared toward teens and young adults, devices designed to attract attention, and thousands of flavors to choose from, the expectation is that growth will continue, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Recently, New York City moved to ban flavored vapes, but courts temporarily halted the law's implementation, according to the NY Post

Monday's program, organized by Scotch Plains-Fanwood Student Assistant Specialist, Liz Knodel-Gordon, was attended by a cross-section of SPFHS students and was aimed at helping students better understand the choices they’re making around vaping, how to resist negative influences, and how the staff and greater community can combat this growing epidemic. 

In attendance to speak with and listen to students were Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, East Brunswick Mayor Dr. Brad Cohen, Dr. Joan Mast, Superintendent of SPF Schools,and Ms. Rayna Wasserman, Mayor Cohen’s cousin and a recent victim of the effects of vaping. 

Ms. Wasserman shared her evocative story about her recent hospitalization from smoking and the toll it took on her life and her health. (See VIDEO link below).

"When Mayor Mahr and I met early in the Fall to talk about some of our goals for the upcoming year, we agreed that we were both troubled by the vaping epidemic at our high school," Dr. Mast said in an interview with TAPintoSPF. "She shared the story of her friend and colleague who is both a medical doctor and a Mayor, Brad Cohen, and his young cousin who was in ICU for a vaping related illness."

"Mayor Mahr thought if we could bring this story to young people, we might be able to change their views on what we all know is a major health crisis in our state," Dr. Mast continued. "We also wanted to show that by working together we could create an effective program for the students in our community. We wanted to make sure it was accessible to all students by live-streaming it and making it available online."

Students can access the symposium on YouTube and continue this important dialogue.

A representative from Prevention Links-Union County Efforts and NJ Helpline shared information and tips on ways students can combat vaping.For more information about vaping, download this free guide from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

To view the symposium, click here:

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