How New Jersey is fighting the teen vaping epidemic

Claire Lowe | February 17, 2020 | Press of AC |

Anya Gowda first learned about vaping through social media. She saw young people using the vapor produced by e-cigarettes to create shapes called “cloud-chasing” and do vape tricks.

“Even from the start, it was advertised as something cool to do, never something that was harmful,” the 18-year-old Egg Harbor Township High School senior said.

Like many her age, she thought it was just water vapor being expelled from the electronic smoking device. That false assumption has led to an alarming rise in the use of e-cigarettes, nicotine addiction and associated health issues nationwide, and a legislative response from both the federal and state governments, but ground level work is still being done in schools across the state to reverse the trend.

From teen organizations spreading awareness to their peers, to training for school employees, health organizations, nonprofits and law enforcement are teaming up to tackle the epidemic.

“I was a person who thought it was water vapor, too, but then I heard all these stories about kids and teens dying from doing it and then I was like, ‘Oh this is really serious,’” said one sophomore from Oakcrest High School who asked not to be named. “So I wanted to help spread awareness to my school and help kids who have an addiction to it stop in some way.”

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