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Nationwide trend of vaporizer and e-cigarette use is present on a local level, officials say

PMG FILE PHOTO - In mid-December, the Newberg School District sent out a letter to Newberg High parents and community members about the use and effects of inhalants such as e-cigarettes and vaporizers.

In mid-December, the Newberg School District sent out a letter to Newberg High parents and community members about the use and effects of inhalants. According to the letter, statistics show a "staggering" increase in the use of vaporizers, electronic cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems among youth in the United States.

A national study by the Food & Drug Administration – cited by the district – found that 3.62 million middle and high schoolers used e-cigarettes in 2018, including 20.8 percent of high school students and 4.9 percent among middle school students.

E-cigarettes and vaporizers have gained national attention in recent months after the FDA sent out warning letters to more than 1,300 manufacturers, claiming illegal sales to minors along with marketing allegedly targeted at underage smokers. The agency raided the offices of JUUL Labs in October before the multibillion-dollar manufacturer briefly halted the sale of its flavored e-cigarette products.

The e-cigarette and vaping trend, according to the school district, is of particular concern at the high school.

"NHS has seen a noticeable increase in students using and possessing these devices on our campus," the letter to parents said. "The purpose of this communication is to educate our community not only about these devices but also what you can do to ensure your loved ones are making positive choices."

The district said NHS is making an effort to educate students on the dangers of electronic cigarettes, starting with a discussion in classrooms at the start of the year. The school embeds information about e-cigarette use into the drugs and alcohol curriculum of its health classes as well. Teachers receive training, the school says, on how to identify inhalant systems.

An additional step to curb the use of electronic cigarettes – as well as educate students and parents about the issue – is the upcoming visit by Officer Jermaine Galloway, also known as "Tall Cop."

Galloway, whose 6-foot-9 height is the reason for his nickname, has worked in law enforcement in Idaho for the last 21 years after graduating from and playing college basketball at the University of San Francisco. He is an award-winning expert in drug and alcohol trends whose work has included the training of more than 100,000 people around the country. His speech at NHS will be like many Galloway has given before, focusing on the dangers of drugs and alcohol – particularly, in this case, e-cigarettes and vaporizers.

"Through education, prevention and enforcement, my presentations address underage drinking and drug problems and empower you to detect these problems and fight them within your own community," Galloway writes on his website. "Everyday items that you might not take a second look at will take on a new meaning once you learn about the drug culture."

Galloway's presentation will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 in the NHS auditorium. Families are encouraged by the district to attend the meeting and bring questions for Galloway and NHS administrators, who will be in attendance as well.


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