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Police, schools concerned over increase in vaping/E-cig use among teens

Local law enforcement and school officials have noticed a rise in vaping among teenagers and are asking for parents to help them educate Oxford’s youth on the dangers of using any nicotine product.

Oxford Police Chief Joey East said Tuesday that narcotic, patrol and school resource officers had noticed an increase in the trend to use E-cigarettes and vaping apparatus among high school students and young adults.

A vape pen or electronic cigarette can sometimes be a tube shape, looking just like a traditional cigarette and is easily spotted. Other times they are harder to identify and can be smaller and rectangular, similar to a USB drive.

Oxford High School Principal Bradley Roberson said the number of discipline referrals for using nicotine products has doubled since last year.

“The number of discipline referrals from the 2016-2017 school year to the 2017-2018 school year increased from nine to 18,” Robinson said Tuesday.

If a child is caught with an E-cig, vaping equipment or tobacco, they are given an in-school suspension for their first offense, and the parents are contacted.

The legal age for purchase and use of a vape or E-cig is 18 years old. East said underage people are getting them by buying them from older students, ordering them online through illegitimate providers, or using fake identification at retailers.

“These devices can contain nicotine, oils, and different forms of cannabis, but all contain harmful chemicals,” East said. “There has also been an increase among adults using them with illegal substances.”

Health risks associated with these devices are an addiction to nicotine, leading to use of other nicotine products, the spread of germs through sharing devices, harmful chemicals and materials inhaled leading to higher risk of cancer, and injuries form battery fires and explosion.

There are also chemicals found in 75 percent of e-cigarette brands that can lead to lung problems including COPD, according to the OPD.

“Please talk to your young adults about the potential dangers and health consequences of vaping,” East said.