High School Students Learn How to “Escape the Vape”

WALLKILL – Escape the Vape. That was the urgent message conveyed at an anti-vaping event held in the Wallkill Senior High School library on September 17. Approximately 55 students attended the informational sessions, which were held during lunch periods.

Nationwide, an increasing number of young people have been using e-cigs (electronic cigarettes) to “vape,” or vaporize, nicotine, various flavorings, and THC (the ingredient in marijuana that gets people high).Wallkill’s event aimed to educate its students about the serious health risks associated with the practice.

Facilitated by the Ulster Prevention Council with assistance from Wallkill Prevention Services Provider Sandi Hecht-Garcia, the educational program tasked students with “escaping the vape” by meeting a series of challenges.“A variety of fun props and clues helped inform the students about the risks and dangers of vaping,” Ms. Hecht-Garcia explained.

Kai Raymo, a Grade 10 student, said that his reasons for attending the event were twofold. “I heard that there have been deaths involved with vaping, so I decided to come to learn more and have some fun,” he commented.

Indeed, there was no shortage of fun, as students popped balloons, pieced together jigsaw puzzles, and searched for messages in a cash register, a safe, and a treasure chest, among other amusing hiding places. There were shiny diamonds, chattering teeth, and a wealth of not-so-fun facts like “Vape fumes contain cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde.”

To students like Grade 12 senior Alison Gerow, the warnings about vaping came through loud and clear. “Vaping is really dangerous,” she said. “It’s something people need to be informed about, especially in today’s society. It [the industry] is targeting kids.”

Vaping has become increasingly popular among youth, Ms. Hecht-Garcia noted, in part because theproducts have been marketed with enticing flavors like cherry crush and piña colada (though New York State recently enacted a ban on flavored e-cigarettes). According to data from the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey (http://bit.ly/2kRdd2v), there was a 78% increase in current e-cigarette use among high school students from 2017 to 2018.

During the same time period, there was a 48% increase among middle school students.
In light of such alarming figures, Ms. Hecht-Garcia said, vaping is a key component in the school district’s educational programs targeting substance abuse.

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