SAUGUS — The school department is warning parents of the dangers of vaping.
The district has sought the help of The Middlesex Partnership for Youth, Inc., a Wakefield-based nonprofit that develops programming to increase the health and safety of students, to provide an informational meeting for parents to learn about the dangers of vaping. The session is intended to help parents develop an understanding of the health impacts of vaping and about how vaping materials are being packaged to attract a youthful customer, according to Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi.
“There are a lot of concerns about the way (vapes) are being packaged,” said DeRuosi. “Middle school children are being encouraged to pick them up. It’s coming at us now in a packaging format that makes it seem like it’s OK, that it’s not filled with nicotine. We are finding (its popularity) is increasing throughout middle school populations across that state.”
Personal vaporizers heat a liquid to generate an aerosol, commonly called a vapor, that the user inhales. Some vapor products look like cigarettes, while others are larger.
A student risk survey was administered in the spring of 2017 and developed by the United States Center for Disease Control Prevention to monitor health behaviors among middle and high school students. All 91 questions were completed during a single class period on a volunteer basis.
More than 13 percent of Saugus middle-schoolers reported in the survey that they have used an electronic vapor product, including more than 26 percent of eighth-graders and 10 percent of seventh-graders.
More than 2 percent of eighth-graders said they smoked an electronic vapor product 10 to 19 days out of the past 30. More than 2 percent said between six to nine days in the past 30. More than 4 percent reported using on three to five days, and 4 percent said they used a device on one to two days.
Meanwhile, more than 98 percent of middle-schoolers said they had never smoked a cigarette. About 71 percent of students said they believed people greatly risk harming themselves physically or in other ways if they smoke one or more packs of cigarettes per day. About 24 percent said it would be a slight or moderate risk, and about 5 percent said it would not be a risk.
“Right now, we are focusing on middle schoolers,” said DeRuosi.
The hope is that the children can be reached before an issue with vaping begins, he said.
The School Committee is also working on making changes to the school’s handbook that better align with the high school handbook so rules are the same when all the students are in one building. This includes a policy, and consequences, for vaping and other tobacco use on school property.
The new Saugus Middle-High School is expected to be completed by 2020.
The event will he held at Belmonte Middle School, 5 Dow St., 6-7:30 p.m. Parents are encouraged to bring their children.