Harms of vaping hammered home for CL…


DONNELLSON – The first thing Central Lee sixth and seventh graders noticed when entering Amanda Schiller’s science classroom were the lungs.

They were pig lungs, attached to an apparatus with bellows.

Chris Kempker, an Iowa Department of Public Health tobacco prevention coordinator housed at the Mt. Pleasant branch of ISU Extension and Outreach visits schools, was there to teach about tobacco prevention.

“No pig was hurt in the making of this,” Kempker said, gesturing toward the lungs. “This was a pig that was dead already and the scientist took the pig lungs out and then they did an experiment with them. They had one experiment exposing them to cigarette smoke.”

One lung was healthy and pink; the other was blackened by the tar in cigarettes.

With some help from volunteers Wyatt and Mason, the lungs were inflated. Students saw the pink lung fully expand, while the blackened lung did not.

That’s because of the tar, Kempker said.

“So what happens is when this lung is exposed to the tar,” she said, “and the tar gets in all those little crevices and makes them sticky.”

Kempker said she has been talking to kids about smoking for a decade.

“When I started talking to kids, guess what, I just had to talk to you about smoking cigarettes that are lit and chewing tobacco,” she said. “But today, there’s a new product on the market and I need to talk to you about it. What is that?”

“Vapes,” the students responded.

Vaping is the way that companies are trying to get kids to start smoking, Kempker said.

Kempker shared several sets of statistics. In 2011, 15.8% of 11th graders were smoking cigarettes. By 2019, that number was 5.8%. On the other hand, in 2011, 1.5% of responding 11th graders reported using e-cigarettes. By 2019, that number climbed to 27.5%.

“The kids are all knowing that tobacco smoking is really bad for you, but what do you suppose they’re thinking about e-cigarettes,” she asked.

“They think they’re healthier,” said a student.

Vapes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine in an aerosol form, Kempker said.

“Notice I don’t say they’re delivering water; they’re not delivering just a water vapor,” she said. “It all has nicotine and it turns into aerosol, which means it has chemicals in it. And it’s designed to mimic the experience of smoking cigarettes.”

In 2016, Iowa 11th graders who vaped in the past 30 days was 9.1%. Just two years later, that number skyrocketed to 22.4%.

That’s because of a new product, Juul.

“So you guys know you would never pick up a cigarette most likely because those are harmful,” Kempker said, “but a lot of kids are trying e-cigarettes because they’re being told they’re not as harmful.”

Kempker said a reason so many young people are vaping is because of advertising being directed at them, as well as the flavors.

Kempker talked about how nicotine and other addictive substance works in brains, how e-cigarettes work and how to get help quitting nicotine addiction.

My Life, My Quit (www.mylifemyquit.com) is a program directed toward helping teenagers quit smoking.

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