North Penn hears from certified specialist about vaping trend


Angela Tessitore

Nationally certified speaker David A. Fialko talks about the dangers of vaping at Monday’s parent forum.

TOWAMENCIN- One Juul pod is equivalent to about a pack and a half of cigarettes. Since 2017, more teenagers are turning to nicotine vapes, rather than flavored vapes containing no nicotine. Alarming facts like these were shared to parents by certified prevention specialist David A. Fialko at Monday night’s parent forum.

“My main goal is to increase a perceived level of harm, not only among parents, but among community members regarding vaping and let them know that [vaping] is less harmful than smoking, but it’s not harmless,” explained Fialko.

Vaping has become a widespread trend among teenagers due to its perceived low level of harm, but vaping is causing a myriad of problems among youth. Vaping nicotine raises one’s blood pressure and heart rate at the same time, leading to a 15-20% increase in dopamine levels. That release of dopamine soon leaves the body and causes students to crave more. Withdrawal symptoms impact the ability of students to concentrate and learn.

“We really want to preserve the health of young people as best as we can by limiting their exposure to things that pose health risks, both physically and psychologically,” added Fialko.

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Some teenagers are using cannabis products in their vapes, potentially causing more health problems. One of the most popular addictives is hash oil, which is an oil extracted from cannabis through a solvent of butane. Certain hash oils can release remnants of butane into the body and lead to brain lesions. Users of vapes containing cannabis do not take into account long term effects of significant amounts of butane released into the body.

“I think we are going to see improvement. I don’t think this is all doom and gloom, but it is a concern of mine that the perceived level of harm is not moving fast enough…Juul advertisements are now more adult focused. They did away with their social media and predatory marketing, which was reminiscent of the early tobacco ads from many years ago,” commented Fialko.

The Juul company has altered their advertisements to be marketed towards adults trying to quit smoking, but limiting access to teenagers is still a major problem facing the vaping industry. People must be 18 in order to buy a vape, but teenagers can easily use their own debit or credit card to buy one online. To get more information about different types of vapes online, teenagers just have to press a button stating they are 18, and they gain instant access to vaping products on the internet.

“I think it’s a matter of time until young people will realize that it’s cool to blow thick clouds, but at the same time it’s not healthy and ask themselves if the risk benefit is worth it,” explained Fialko on whether teenagers will recognize that vaping is harmful.

Fialko has asked students why they vape. One of the most common answers is “because everyone is doing it.” Fialko hopes that educating people of all ages about the risks of vaping nicotine will eventually lead to a decline in a dangerous trend that can affect people’s health years into the future.