City News

Rise in e-cigarette popularity among teens causes school staff to worry

A recent survey administered to Dane County education professionals showed they are largely in support of more regulations against e-cigarette use.

Image By: Brandon Moe

The rise in popularity of e-cigarettes have Dane County education professionals worried, the City of Madison announced Tuesday.

The city shared results of a survey focused on e-cigarettes, which was sent in May to staff from Dane County schools, including nurses, social workers and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse program coordinators, as well as middle and high school principals.

According to the statement, nearly half of those surveyed have not had any formal training related to e-cigarette use — all of them, however, said they would like to receive more resources and information on the products.

The survey came after this year’s Dane County Youth Assessment, which found almost one in five high school students currently use e-cigarettes. The City of Madison pointed to Juul as “the most popular e-cigarette product used by young people” and expressed concern about its discreteness.

“Local students have said these products are easily concealed and used in schools, with many students using Juuls in classrooms and bathrooms without being caught,” Nina Gregerson, the health education coordinator for Public Health Madison and Dane County said.

Although many students can hide the Juul easily, nearly 60 percent of school staff reported having confiscated an e-cigarette at least once from students.

Despite the all-time low use of traditional cigarettes among teenagers, the statement also said e-cigarettes may replace them. According to Gregerson, this is particularly alarming because e-cigarettes are not placed under the same regulations as cigarettes. She referenced the Juul’s high nicotine dosage, which is both addictive and harmful to brain development in teenagers.

Gregerson urged parents to talk to their children about e-cigarettes and outlined steps schools should take to prevent students from using these products.

“We’re hopeful that schools will take steps to educate themselves, students and parents about the dangers of e-cigarettes and Juul,” Gregerson said. “We also hope they will update their school tobacco policies to include e-cigarettes.”

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