What Do Doctors Think About Vaping

Everyday school lifeUS youth in the grip of the e-cigarette

"American doctors smoke Camel because Camel is the healthier cigarette," said a Camel advertisement from the 1950s. As old and incomprehensible as this slogan is, it is actually up to date when it comes to e-cigarettes.

Around 60 parents at Montgomery High School in the US state of New Jersey can see this for themselves that evening. Hundreds of exhibits related to the e-cigarette are on display on this October evening. Also included: creative hiding places in shoes, backpacks and in the handle of a hairbrush. Which makes a lot of mothers laugh if it weren't actually a sad occasion.

Strawberry-flavored nicotine

Tim Shoemaker brought the commercial and the many exhibits with him. The former police officer and FBI instructor has made the fight against drugs his life's work. He drives the audience in the high school auditorium obsessively with his 90-minute lecture, which he currently reels two to three times a week at a school in New Jersey and other US states under the title "Save your breath":

"The e-cigarette was created to circumvent all of these regulations. And we weren't aware of that at first. For the first time, a twelve-year-old boy could buy something with nicotine in a normal store for $ 50, because all of them Regulations for cigarettes do not apply to it. Just like that, and there were no taxes on it, so he can just knock his pocket money on the head to buy strawberry-flavored nicotine! "

The e-cigarette manufacturer Blu advertises in a commercial with a female rancher (Blu)

Schoolchildren who just drink their vapes don't talk until they're in the hospital. Greta Frontero tells me how early children start doing it. The 19-year-old graduated from Westfield High School in New Jersey just last year:

"One of my friends' little brothers was maybe twelve when he started using e-cigarettes. He just went to the general store across the street - and you have to be 21 in New Jersey to buy tobacco - and they sold it to him anyway, him and his Friends, all the time. "

(imago stock & people) E-cigarettes lure teenagers into nicotine addiction
They taste like mint or mango and are advertised as a less harmful alternative to the cigarette. Many young people, however, are only seduced into smoking by the aromatic electronic cigarettes. This has now been confirmed by several US studies.

Because in a world in which cigarettes are highly taxed and tobacco advertising is banned, skilled marketing strategists have once again managed to advertise the consumption of nicotine in a supposedly healthy form. Once again, everyone was deceived while the industry was making good profits, emphasizes Tim Shoemaker ironically that evening:

"Imagine, no age restrictions, no high taxes, easy access, lots of TV advertising and all the great flavors. Market all of that without the negative touch that cigarettes have on children!"

Whereby the cumbersome word e-cigarette hardly occurs today. Vaping, that's how it is called in American today, from the English word for vapor.

Nobody really wants to talk about it

Many teachers know how widespread vaping is in US schools, but hardly anyone wants to talk about it. There is such a thing as a wall of silence in America, which is otherwise so communicative. But one of them wants to talk to me, it's John Arlotta, director of Glen Rock High School in the far north of New Jersey:

"Well, quite a few of my colleagues think that something like that damages the image of their school and that it is not perfect and so on. But you know, even if we are a good school, we are not perfect. We have to struggle with that like other schools too - and that is why we will now install the detectors. "

Detectors that can detect the fine vapor - they should be a deterrent. Because vaping has nothing to do with the secret smoking in the school toilet from earlier days, because the capsule contents often evaporate almost odorless. Derek Peterson is CEO of the high-tech company Soter Tech on Long Island near New York. She developed the FlySense detector especially for schools, and that's how it works.

"Well, FlySense is actually an environmental sensor. It can measure volatile organic components in the air. So it can register smoke or fumes in the air. Then it simply sends an SMS or email to the teachers at the school."

Who then have to make their way to the bathroom to catch students in the act. Because of course: no teacher can stand in a toilet all the time when the students are actually supposed to relieve themselves there. But what is often only a minor matter at US high schools, says ex-student Greta Frontero.

"In 2018, vaping was pretty normal among my classmates and friends. It was unusual not to vape at a party. It was common at school. In the toilets, students pushed things under the cubicle walls and people did pulled the vapes in the toilets quite often. "

Installation of detectors on school toilets

In the meantime, some students have left their hands on vaping, but the problem persists, John Arlotta tells me on the tour of his school.

"I think we caught six or seven students in the past year. But it happens more often than we notice. We often find the cartridges in the toilets. What worries us most: We don't know what's in it. Often it is the scented stuff kids like, but often there is nicotine in there, and of course THC. That's what worries us really. "

The detectors for his school will cost around $ 15,000. The parents and sponsors will donate for it, as is customary in the United States. There is no public funding, and yet Derek Peterson is seeing a boom in demand for his detectors:

"The demand for the sensors is incredibly high. In 2018 we sold around 700 sensors to schools. Now, in 2019, we are on the home straight to 7,000 sensors.

Unit price just under $ 1,000. Like in many other states, the New Jersey Ministry of Health wants to act now and make access to legal vaping products much more difficult. There is agreement on this across party lines and - not always a matter of course in the USA - across state borders, says Jeff Brown from the New Jersey Health Department, whom I meet in the capital, Trenton:

"The alarming thing we saw from 2017 to 2018, to quantify that, was an increase of over 75 percent in our high school students for vaping devices, and an increase of over 50 percent in children in middle school , that is, grades 7 to 8, who may now become addicted to nicotine, and we have to stop this development! "

The manufacturers have earned well on vaping and continue to do so. China already beckons with a huge market. A third of all smokers worldwide live there. It is also clear that even those who now help to contain the consequences will earn money, says school principal John Arlotta, slightly resigned.