Vapping among Mississippi teens is growing at an alarming rate according to a non-profit organization. Now they're working with schools to educate families about the dangers. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
According to the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi 38 percent of high school students in the state are leading the nation in using a product called Juul to vape. The national average is 21 percent. Sandra Shelson is with the organization. She says Juuls are electronic devices that look like a flash drive. Shelson says vaping one container of Juul is the same as smoking a pack of cigarettes and students are becoming addicted.
"And nicotine is a highly addictive substance. The young brain doesn't fully develop until it's 25 years old. So, what type of long lasting impact is this level of nicotine going to have on a youth's brain?"
Shelson says vaping is also increasing among middle school students. She says the products are marketed towards young people by adding flavored juices. Martha Hollingsworth is with the Rankin County School District. She says it's an epidemic in Mississippi. Hollingsworth sent information to families warning them about Juuls and other vaping products.
"There's also a lot of other chemicals that can be put in these devices like gas, or formaldehyde or acetone or even fentanyl. We're just trying to get the word out to parents that this is not a safe alternative to smoking. Actually it can be deadly," said Hollingsworth.
Juuls aren't easy to detect because no smoke is produced when vaping. Hollingsworth says there is a sweet smell from the juices. This week students in the Midwest were hospitalized with lung damage from vaping. Sandra Shelson with a Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi isn't aware of any such cases in our state.