Ask any high school student; it’s highly unlikely that any of them will predict that drugs or alcohol will derail their futures. No one thinks “it” (which can represent any number of dire consequences) can happen to them. During a candid presentation with students at Southport High School, DeLeon explained that “it” can happen to them and that “it” can potentially begin with vaping.
DeLeon, a national speaker, talked to students about the pitfalls of alcohol, drugs, and vaping. Though e-cigarettes are marketed as a safer alternative to smoking regular cigarettes, DeLeon casted doubt on those claims. He explained that young users have no idea what they are inhaling, especially when the product is purchased off the street rather than from a licensed retailer. DeLeon pointed out that third-party sellers have packaging that looks legitimate but may contain harmful chemicals not safe for human consumption.
Some vaping critics blame THC – the main compound in marijuana that gives the high sensation – for making some users sick. Other critics, like DeLeon, say the real culprits are dangerous chemicals, which aren’t listed among the ingredients of counterfeit products found online and in some stores. Also troubling, some products even come with plastic gloves because consumers are advised not to touch the chemicals that they plan to inhale.
DeLeon, who watched his close friend become disabled from vaping, warned students there is THC and 13 chemicals in the typical “e-juice” that fills most vape devices. He also claimed that one JUUL pod is equivalent to four packs of cigarettes, which is alarming considering many teens like to puff on their e-cigarettes incessantly. In a separate presentation, DeLeon also shared his message to parents, not to influence their opinions about vaping. Instead, he wanted to convey how easy it is for teens to vape in front of unsuspecting adults because devices are inconspicuous and often resemble USB drives.
To protect the health of students and staff, Perry Township Schools has a strict policy prohibiting the possession or use of e-cigarettes or tobacco products on its properties.
Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use nearly doubled among Indiana teens between 2016 to 2018 according to the state’s 2018 Indiana Youth Tobacco Survey. Young people believe e-cigarettes and vaping are safer alternatives to smoking regular cigarettes. State and national health experts say that may not be true. Since early September, the Indiana Department of Health has connected three deaths to e-cigarettes and report that it is currently investigating 75 cases of severe lung injury linked to vaping, a total that has doubled in the past month. Most cases have occurred among people between 16 and 29 years old.
DeLeon’s personal stories resonated with many students. When invited to surrender their e-cigarettes with no questions and no consequence, six Southport High students chose to turn them in to hopefully drop the habit and protect their health.