Berrien County Health Department launches underage vaping campaign

Published 12:17 pm Monday, January 29, 2024

BENTON HARBOR — The Berrien County Health Department’s substance use disorder prevention team is raising awareness of the dangers associated with underage vaping.

The Health Department’s vaping prevention campaign seeks to educate community members younger than 21 about the negative health effects associated with underage vaping of electronic vapor products, such as e-cigarettes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2021 1 in 3 Michigan high school students reported they had tried an electronic vapor product in their lifetime with 14% reporting their use in the past month. The 2021-2022 Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth found more than 1 in 7 Berrien County teens had used an e-cigarette in the past month.

Electronic vapor devices heat a liquid and produce an aerosol or mix of small particles in the air. Many are composed of a battery, a heating element and a place to hold liquid. They come in a variety of sizes and may be shaped like everyday items, such as pens or highlighters.

Some of the negative side effects already known include:

    • Increased likelihood of nicotine addiction.
    • Effects on memory, mood and attention.
    • Increased risk of lung disease and worsened symptoms for lung conditions such as asthma.
    • Increased risk of cancer, high blood pressure and heart attack.
    • Greater levels of anxiety and depression.
    • Risk of severe burns and injury from device malfunction.

“Marketed using bright colors and popular flavors, these harmful electronic vapor products are targeted toward young people, who may be unaware of the health risks associated with nicotine or the vapor itself,” said Lisa Peeples-Hurst, public health promotion and prevention supervisor. “It’s critical we as a community have these conversations with our children about the dangers of vaping and how to form healthy lifestyle habits.”

Parents and caregivers seeking to reduce their child’s risk of underage substance misuse can begin having conversations using these resources from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

For more information about preventing underage vaping and tobacco use, visit bit.ly/EscapeTheVape or contact Lisa Peeples-Hurst at lpeepleshurst@bchdmi.org or 269.927.5690.