ROCKINGHAM — In a Pride survey of 211 Grade 11 students from Richmond County schools, about 14% of those students said they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
Pride surveys collect data and trends about substance use and abuse, according to Kendra Faries, a public health educator for Richmond County. A virtual webinar on Tuesday, sponsored by the Sandhills Center in conjunction with North Carolina Families United, presented survey results and other information regarding vaping and addiction for parents, those who work with children and teens. and anyone else wanting to know more. on the relatively new trend.
This cohort of students completed the same survey when they were in grade nine. This survey also covered physical and mental health, as well as family life. At that time, 3% of students had used tobacco cigarettes and 7% had used marijuana in the past 30 days.
This survey showed an upward trend both statewide and nationally in the use of e-cigarettes and vaping, while cigarette consumption is at an all-time low.
“It’s happening right under our noses,” Faries said. “As a teacher, I’ve seen athletes vape regularly. It’s not uncommon for these kids to do this high-risk job [behavior], and they don’t really understand it. They do not see themselves at 50 still struggling with addiction.
She then detailed long-term effects, such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer.
“Even though cigarette consumption is extremely low, overall tobacco consumption is still too high among young people,” added Travis Greer, Region 6 Tobacco Control Manager.
According to the 2019 North Carolina Youth Smoking Survey, approximately 135,000 high school students and 38,000 college students currently use tobacco products.
Faries said one of the “worrying” points of the survey is the perceived health risks that students think tobacco, marijuana and vaping pose to them.
In Richmond County, 76% of students surveyed think cigarettes pose a health risk, but only 36% and 59% of students think this is true of marijuana and vaping, respectively. Faries said that ideally that number is over 90% across the board.
“We all know there’s a risk to that,” Faries said. “It may be long term, but there is always a risk. That’s not even counting the addiction process.
While many students expected strong parental disapproval for using any of these three substances, they expected less disapproval from their peers.
“In the school system, you can look at the culture and say that marijuana, e-cigarettes, and vaping don’t seem to bother the population,” Faries said.
Faries also spoke about the increase in the percentage of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, that young people consume. In the 1960s, Faries said that the THC content of marijuana could generally be as low as 0.25% to 1%, and in the following decade it rose to 6%. Now, Faries has said that marijuana in the United States can be genetically modified to reach 24% THC.
From August 2020 to July 2021, out of 78 drug tests for pregnant women in Richmond County, 71.8% of women tested positive for a drug. Amazingly, 97% of their children tested positive for a drug.
“Why is it different between mom and baby? Faries asked rhetorically. “The baby can’t excrete it. They can’t get rid of it, and they soak like tea… in the medicine that the mother uses.
A preventive program could arrive in schools
CATCH My Breath is an evidence-based program to prevent youth from vaping. Faries said she is a certified facilitator with this program.
Due to COVID-19, the program has not been implemented in the school system, but Faries stressed that it is something she hopes to bring.
The program could be taught with a few classes, or it would allow a facilitator to work directly with students who want to quit vaping.
Faries said the program directly aligns with state guidelines that correspond to health professions classes and teachers could be trained to teach the CATCH My Breath curriculum.
As part of the Richmond County Health Department’s strategic plan, Faries concluded by stating that one of its main goals for the future is the prevention of vaping and smoking.
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Contact Matthew Sasser at 910-817-2671 or [email protected]