Eagle River Youth Coalition events feature panel discussion of teen vaping, Jan. 16 and 23

If you go …

What: Vaping and Marijuana, It’s Happening Here, Now, an Eat Chat Parent event.

When and where: 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, at Vail Mountain School and Tuesday, Jan. 23, at Brush Creek Elementary.

Cost: Free; childcare and dinner provided with Spanish interpretation.

More information: RSVP to Carol Johnson at

EAGLE COUNTY — According to the most recent Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data, 30 percent of high schoolers said they have used an electronic vapor device, or vaped. The survey’s results also revealed that 27.8 percent of high school seniors reported vaping in the past year.

While vaping is worrisome — and something parents need to be aware of — Eagle County youth aren’t taking to it in droves, said Mandy Ivanov, Eagle County Public Health and Environment’s health promotion coordinator and schools liaison.

“It’s slightly higher than the state average but that leaves two-thirds of students who are not using,” Ivanov said.

Vaporizers are devices that heat a particular substance, such as flavorings, nicotine or cannabis, into a mist that is puffed or inhaled. A recent article in U.S. News & World Report reported that one in 10 high school seniors reported using vaporizers for marijuana substances, and close to a third — 32.8 percent — said they believed nicotine was in the mist the last time they used a vaping device.

Education is Key

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In light of these numbers, Eagle River Youth Coalition will focus on vaping and marijuana use at its next Eat Chat Parent events taking place this month and featuring a panel of experts including Ivanov, School Resource Officer Megan Heil and Carol Johnson, community education manager for the Eagle River Youth Coalition.

“Prevention education works best when delivered four to five years prior to the behavior,” said Johnson, Eat Chat Parent facilitator. “I frequently hear from parents that ‘my kids aren’t there yet.

“I think it’s never too early to have healthy conversations with your school-age kids, whether it’s about vaping, technology use or any other tough topic. Talk early and talk often is a common saying, and it’s really true.”

Although vaping can be passed off as inconsequential or harmless, just the opposite is true, Ivanov said. There is insufficient evidence to say whether the flavors that are inhaled are safe when they are heated, as even the flavors that claim to be nicotine-free often contain propylene glycol and flavoring compound.

“There are no regulations, no standards and really not much accountability for the manufacturers,” Ivanov said, adding that there can be as much nicotine in one pod as in an entire pack of cigarettes.

No one younger than 18 should have access to the product, but where there is a will, there is a way. The four big tobacco companies control most of the vaping market. It’s a new way to recruit youth, Ivanov said.

The Eat Chat Parent event will encourage parents to talk about it with their kids, just as parents talk about drugs, alcohol and tobacco. The panel will help put parents in the know, showing just what vapes and juuls — tiny devices that are easily hidden — look like.

“We want parents to feel free to ask questions, engage the experts and learn what to look for,” Johnson said.

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