BEST-4-Bristol has now taken on the prevention of vaping in their fight to eliminate substance abuse in Bristol. A meeting was held on Thursday, Dec. 12, where a webinar presentation was shown.
“I was able to bring the webinar to the coalition with partnering with other prevention leaders in the state,” said project coordinator Christina Sanchez. “We are alarmed at the rates of youth vaping. Our schools have really taken the brunt of having to deal with the issue because it is so prevalent. As a coalition we remain in constant communication with each other. It is crucial we approach this epidemic joined by all 12 sectors of the community.”
The webinar mentioned how vaping doesn’t just have nicotine in it. There’s also ethanol, THC, CBD, opioids, stimulants, and hallucinogens, and it also can contain aerosol, and formaldehyde.
Officials demonstrated different vaping devices, such as electronic cigarettes, Juul’s—which look like USB drives. The vapes come in different flavors too, like mango, and other fruit flavors, and mint. A 2019 study found that 12ml. of nicotine in a cigarette is equal to 6mg. in a low dose e-cig, and 36mg. in a high dose e-cig, which is also equal to 59mg. in a Juul.
The Bristol school system is already making parents aware of the issue by having sent out letters to parents of middle and high schoolers from Superintendent Catherine Carbone. The letter asks that parents start having a conversation with their kids about vaping, and it states that vaping is the most common form of tobacco use in Connecticut high school youth. The letter emphasizes that the possession of a vape, or its use on school grounds is a violation of board of education policy, and requires a disciplinary hearing. If the possession of drugs or alcohol is found on school grounds, or at a school-sponsored activity. It can result in a referral for expulsion.
Lt. Mike Morello of the Bristol Police Department said that Bristol officers recently conducted compliance checks of places that sell e-cigarettes.
“We expect to conduct similar operations in the future to discourage underage sales,” said Morello. “We know usage absolutely exists to some degree within both our middle school and high school-aged youth. According to a study by the Connecticut Department of Health, e-cigarette use in High school students doubled from 2015 to 2017. Current law which requires purchasers to be 21 or over is a strong step in the right direction and would encourage persons of all ages to educate themselves on the harmful effects of nicotine products.”
Sanchez said that the district is now in the process of conducting the PRIDE survey to all students in grades 6 and 8, along with sophomores and seniors at the high school. Data will allows community members to look at the problem from a factual standpoint.
“In February, myself and my co-chair, Samantha Rajotte will be headed to Washington D.C. for the CADCA conference,” said Sanchez. “During the conference we will participate in Capital Hill Day. We will meet with Senators Murphy and Blumenthal, and ask for continued support as we fight to save lives. We are constantly working towards making prevention a priority on a local, state and federal level.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jamila Young, email her at JYoung@BristolObserver.com.