By Gretta Becay
Is vaping dangerous? Absolutely.
How about Dodge County teenagers? Do they vape? Absolutely.
According to the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey, a collaborative effort between the Department of Education and the Department of Health, Dodge County students vape more than they smoke cigarettes or use chewing tobacco, dip, or snuff.
Public Health Director for both Dodge and Steele Counties, Amy Caron and Health Educator for Dodge County Public Health, Alicia Schumacher, explained the survey and the results.
Since 1989, state officials have been administering the Minnesota Student Survey every three years to students in grades 5, 8, 9, and 11 throughout the state.
All Dodge County schools participated in the most recent survey. The survey has about a four percent margin error.
Caron and Schumacher explained that the Public Health Department relies heavily on the data from the survey to plan educational outreach in the county.
The survey asks the students demographic questions, questions about their plans after high school, absenteeism, if they felt they have been bullied, their activities outside of school, if they feel safe, and about other environmental factors affecting their lives. The survey also asks students about their use of alcohol, tobacco, and any other drugs.
County wide, one quarter of female 11th graders and almost one fifth of male 11th graders vaped or used e-cigarettes. Most of those students said they got the products from friends.
The students were also asked if they thought there was risk associated with vaping or using e-cigarettes. Almost three-quarters of the students thought the risk was only moderate or lower. A slightly larger percentage felt their parents would think the students’ vaping or using e-cigarettes was ‘very wrong.’
As Caron and Schumacher explained, when students are vaping or using e-cigarettes, there is no overt smell like there is when people smoke tobacco products, and there is no visible ‘smoke’. If anything, the exhaled breath gives off a fruity smell, depending on the flavor of the product. Therefore, students can vape even in school and are less likely to get caught.
Also, the cartridges that carry the nicotine or, in some cases THC (a derivative of marijuana,) are not regulated. So how much nicotine or THC is in each puff is not known.
But the effects on lungs can be catastrophic; even on young, healthy lungs.
According to the state Department of Health, in a recent news release, “To date, Minnesota has 17 patients who have been classified as confirmed or probable cases, [of serious lung injuries related to vaping]. An additional 15 potential cases are under investigation. Patients have been hospitalized for days to weeks, including many in the intensive care unit. Of those cases who have been interviewed, all reported vaping illicit THC products. Many also reported vaping other products including those that contain nicotine.”
For more information about the survey, the link is, https://www.co.dodge.mn.us/Dodge%20County%202019%20MN%20Student%20Survey.pdf