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
By Robert Galbreath, [email protected]
brain growth, ENDS products can contain
other unhealthy substances like diacetyl and
“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.