Cortland County hosting Youth Vaping Community Forum

Vaping, or smoking electronic cigarettes, has become a growing concern for youth in Cortland County. As vaping devices continue to change, it makes it challenging for parents, caregivers and school administrators to stay on top of current trends.

This is why the Tobacco Free Zone program through the Cortland County Health Department is holding a youth vaping community forum on Wednesday, April 24th from 6:30-8:30pm at the Homer Intermediate/Junior High School Auditorium. Open to all Cortland County residents, especially parents and local elected officials to learn more about electronic cigarettes, what challenges school administrators are facing and what you can do in your community to address this growing concern.

You are invited to visit with tabling community agencies from 6:30-7:00pm and then a presentation by a panel of experts from 7:00-8:30pm. Panel of experts include Douglas VanEtten, Homer Principle, Rob Reyngoudt, Cortland SRO Officer, Mike Bort, Homer SRO Officer, Stuart Gillim, MD, Cortland County Medical Advisor, Emily Nink, Tobacco Policy Center, Jenn Hamilton, Tobacco Free Zone, Melissa Potter, Reality Check and Reality Check youth leaders.

Children’s entertainment will be provided in the school cafeteria while parents attend the presentation. A mobile zoo with small, friendly caged animals will be on-hand to entertain the kids. Refreshments will be provided by Edible Arrangements.

Electronic cigarettes are now the most popular tobacco product among youth. In the past four years, electronic cigarette use has risen 160% among NYS high school students. In Cortland County, 22% of students in grades 7-12 have reported using electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days, according to Cortland Area Communities that Care 2018 Pride Survey.

“Part of our responsibility as a school district is to educate families about health issues related to their children. Vaping among our youth has become a real concern and we owe it to parents to inform them of the dangers associated with it,” said Tom Turck Homer Central School District Superintendent.

The new high-nicotine product JUUL has become so popular with youth that it has captured 68% of the e-cigarette market in two years. The JUUL product is sleek, very discrete and comes in a variety of flavors. “Many young people are aware of JUUL, but they are unaware that the product always contains the addictive chemical nicotine,” says Jenn Hamilton, Community Engagement Coordinator with the Tobacco Free Zone program. According to the product website, a single JUUL pod or cartridge is roughly equal to a pack of cigarettes. “They may be putting a new generation of youth at risk of nicotine addiction.”

Electronic cigarette companies have taken a page out of Big Tobacco’s playbook when it comes to their marketing strategies. Locally, tobacco and electronic cigarette marketing and sales in stores near schools is a particular concern because teens that pass by or shop at these stores are routinely exposed to pro-tobacco and electronic cigarette messaging. Exposure to point-of-sale advertising and promotions prompts initiation, encourages tobacco and electronic cigarette use, aids unplanned purchases, and undermines quit attempts.

Cortland County residents, parents, and elected officials are all invited to learn more about this growing concern of electronic cigarette use among youth, take home resources and more importantly, learn what they can do in their community.

This event is sponsored by Cortland County Health Department, Tobacco Free Zone, Reality Check, The Cortland Voice, Funflicks, Cayuga Medical Center and Edible Arrangements.

You can RSVP via Facebook. For additional information, please go to www.tfreezone.net or contact Melissa Potter, Reality Check Youth Engagement Coordinator at 607-756-3416 or mpotter@cortland-co.org or Jenn Hamilton, Tobacco Free Zone Community Engagement Coordinator at 607-758-5501 or jhamilton@cortland-co.org