A conversation on ENDS

Joan Mitchell photo Sue Kinikin, left, examines an ENDS device passed out by Deputy Ryan Day as Wilma Kothe, Penny Chrisman, Ron Davison and Melinda Bobo listen to the presentation.

A conversation on ENDS

Community leaders in

Sublette County met with the public at the

Southwest Sublette County Pioneers Senior

Center on Aug. 13 to educate people about

electronic nicotine devices (ENDS), sometimes

referred to as vaping or e-cigarettes.

Deputy Ryan Day, school resources officer

for District 9, Tonia Hoffman, school

nurse for District 9 and a rural health care

district board member, led Tuesday's discussion

with Trisha Scott, Sublette County

prevention coordinator, and Joan Mitchell,

director of the senior center.

Teens continue to abuse ENDS products

at a distressing rate, reversing decades of

declining tobacco use. The Surgeon General

called the rise in e-cigarette use an “epidemic

among youth” in 2018.

The Food and Drug Administration is

studying reports that the use of ENDS products

may cause seizures. Last week, national

news outlets reported that dozens of teens

and people in their 20s were hospitalized

for serious lung injury, including collapsed

lungs, after using e-cigarettes.

There are few regulations on ENDS, and

the growing market is worth billions of dollars.

Because the ENDS industry is so new,

national, state and local health care and prevention

agencies are struggling to catch up

and study the short- and long-term health

impacts of ENDS products.

In addition to nicotine, a highly addictive

chemical that can harm adolescent

A conversation on ENDS

Parents and grandparents given tools for prevention

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brain growth, ENDS products can contain

other unhealthy substances like diacetyl and

heavy metals.

“ENDS products are addicting a whole

new generation of kids,” Day said. “Chewing

and smoking cigarettes is on the decline.

(ENDS) is the future of tobacco.”

Based on surveying local students, he

stated that “seven out of 10” teens in the

Big Piney area had experimented with

ENDS products at one time or were using

them on a regular basis. ENDS abuse affected

students from all backgrounds.

“Our star athletes, honor students,

straight-A students (are using ENDS),” he

said. “These are great kids, and parents and

grandparents are flabbergasted.”

Day added that as late as three years ago,

tobacco detection was easier in schools.

Cigarettes and chewing tobacco left telltale

signs behind – a strong odor or stained

clothes and teeth. ENDS products, on the

other hand, “are designed to be discreet,”

Day said. The aerosols released are flavored

to smell benign and even pleasant, like fruit

or bubble gum.

Day passed around examples of ENDS

devices to show how they resemble innocent

items like USB ports and pens. ENDS

companies market their products to young

people, he said. They run slick advertisements

similar to the Joe Camel campaign of

the 1980s and 1990s that hooked millions of

young people in his generation to cigarettes.

Hoffman called the use of ENDS in the

community a “public health crisis.” Hoffman

said that a growing concern is the rising

legalization of products like marijuana.

Many ENDS products are designed so users

can add substances like THC (the chemical

that causes a high in marijuana) and other

substances that are legal or illegal.

“We have no idea what's in (ENDS

products),” she said.

Hoffman said that while all of this might

seem overwhelming, a starting point in the

prevention battle is at home.

“Research (ENDS products) and educate

yourself about them,” she said. “Then have

a conversation about ENDS with your children

or grandchildren. Be involved in their


Scott said that while a lot of effort has

gone into teaching teens and children about

ENDS, a “gap” exists in terms of educating

the older generations.

“The most important resource is people

like you,” she said. “Parents and grandparents

are the key to the prevention discussion.”

The roundtable discussion was a joint effort

between the senior center, the Sublette

County Sheriff's Office, School District No.

9, the rural health care district and the Sublette

County Prevention Coalition.


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