Ocean City Today

Youth council warns against teen vape use in Worcester

By Brian Gilliland | Nov 16, 2017

(Nov. 17, 2017) As part of an annual report delivered to the Worcester County Commissioners earlier this month, the Worcester County Youth Council warned of a vaping problem within the ranks of school-age children.

“A lot of our stats come from the youth risk behavior study, where 43 percent of high school students said they used a vaping or e-cigarette device, while 27 percent said they’d used one in the last 30 days,” health department spokesman Travis Brown said. “Another area of concern is in middle school students, where 18 percent said they’d used a vaping device ever and 11.2 percent said they’d used one in the past 30 days.”

These numbers are well above state averages. Only 37.6 percent of Maryland’s high school students and 15.4 percent of middle school students reported having used a vaping device.

The suppliers, according to a local shop owner, are parents.

“It’s obvious the kids get them somehow — in my experience it’s been the parents buying,” Shelby Pryor, owner of Dawg House Vapor and Glass in on Route 50 in West Ocean City. “The parents buy for their kids, because they would rather have them vaping than using combustible cigarettes.”

One reason for this is the adjustable nicotine level, Pryor said.

“A Marlboro red contains 12-15 milligrams of nicotine,” he said, which several online sources confirm is about average. The fluid used in vaping devices or e-cigarettes can be purchased with a variety of concentrations, or none at all.

“When you get down to a certain point, it’s not much different than caffeine,” Pryor said.

In separate interviews Brown and Pryor both said there has been no long-term study of the effects of vaping on health.

Jacob Katna, owner of Cloud Nine Vape on Philadelphia Avenue, said his clientele skews older.

“When we first opened three years ago, the 18-and-older crowd came through. Now, 85-90 percent of our customers are 30-plus. I think it’s dying down with the younger crowd and it’s more older people trying to kick cigarettes,” Katna said.

Katna said the proliferation of vaping to underage people is similar to how young people can obtain alcohol while underage — if they want it, they can get it.

“If you’re going to ‘Hey Mister’ for alcohol you’re going to do it for this too,” he said.

Both shop owners say they have multiple controls in place to discourage underage people from obtaining their products.

“We are on the high end for youth use, and we know we have a number of issues,” Brown said.

Awareness efforts have been the health department and youth council’s weapon of choice in the fight, with advertisements placed on social media. Anti-vaping messaging is rolled into anti-smoking programs.

“We recognize it’s an issue in the community and we’re working with others to get the information out while talking about the county’s youth about these issues,” Brown said.

The youth risk behavior survey is based on data from 2014, the most recent data available. A new study’s results are expected soon, Brown said.

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