SISTERS, OR -- Like many of their peers across the state, teens in Sisters are turning to vaping at an alarming rate. But one Sisters High School teacher is trying to curb the growing epidemic.
"We are noticing just a high number of students who are curious and trying vaping, and so what happens from that is, 'Uh-oh! Now I don't know how to get out of this, or off of this'," Heather Johnson tells KBND News. She says many don't realize an e-cigarette vaping cartridge has the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of traditional cigarettes. "This misnomer, even for the students, that this is safer than cigarettes. But, when you look at the actual ingredients of what is in these vaping pods, we're looking at an equally - if not more - damaging animal, here."
Among her students, Johnson says, the idea of vaping is considered an acceptable coping mechanism for the stress and anxiety the face, "'I'm attempting to try a substance that I know is harmful to my body and is highly addictive, but here I am at this crossroad. What tools do I have to empower myself to work through this?'" She's now working to help teens learn better strategies.
She says Sisters Country is banding together to help, too. They're working to educate parents on what nicotine addiction looks like and how to combat it with their kids. Johnson also suggests parents conduct random, at-home drug tests of their kids, "It allows students an opportunity to have an 'out' with their friends and that peer pressure. So it takes that pressure off of them, but it also holds them very accountable."
Nicotine is considered one of the top five most addictive substances, but e-cigarettes can also be used with marijuana or other substances, "We need to really wrap our arms around these kids," says Johnson, "So that we do our best to help to guide and empower them to make the best decisions possible."