The use of e-cigarettes among teens has been increasing in recent years, and that includes those here in Southwest Florida.
“We are seeing them in our middle schools, our high schools, kids are bringing these in, they are easy to hide," says Greg Turchetta, Executive Director and Communication Engagement of Collier County Public Schools.
Teenagers have been using tobacco products significantly less than in previous years. But it seems like teens might be trading tobacco for e-cigarettes or vape pens to get their nicotine fix.
According to Florida Youth Tobacco , the use of e-cigarettes has gone up from approximately 9.8 percent in 2017 to 15.7 percent in 2018 - an increase of more than 60 percent.
Collier County urges parents to educate themselves on e-cigarettes. These devices are often hidden in plain sight because they look like familiar objects, like computer batteries or flash drives.
An example of this is the Juul. This is a battery-powered vape system containing a pod pre-filled with a high volume of nicotine. The pods and Juul stick can easily be mistaken for a USB or flash drive.
One Juul pod contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. They come in a variety of flavors and fruity smells making them hard to detect if your child is using them.
The use of vaping devices is a violation of Collier County Public Schools and will result in suspension or even police citation if students are found with them.
The FDA recently described teen e-cigarette use as an epidemic. They also launched “ The Real Cost ” youth e-cigarette prevention campaign to warn kids about the dangers of e-cigarette use.
The FDA sends posters, videos and other prevention materials to places where teens spend most of their time. The campaign has made online videos, social media content, and posters for school bathrooms.