A weekly newsletter written to parents of the TLC
Nov. 9, 2018 Vol 14
Although e-cigarettes have been around for more than a decade, vaping rates have skyrocketed in recent years, especially among teens. E-cigarettes are now the most frequently used tobacco product among adolescents — some 2.1 million middle and high school students were e-cigarette users in 2017 — far surpassing traditional combustible cigarettes.
JUUL, a popular vape device that comes in fun flavors, looks like a flash drive and can be charged in a USB port, is especially concerning. JUUL delivers high levels of nicotine, making the product extremely addictive. The company that makes and markets JUUL recently exceeded a $10 billion valuation faster than any company, including Facebook. JUUL sales now make up more than half of the e-cigarette market.
Last month the FDA announced that it will be cracking down not only on illegal sales of e-cigarettes to minors, but also the “kid-friendly marketing and appeal of these products” because “we see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion.”
Teachers, health professionals and parents are alarmed by this trend and trying to educate not only teens but also themselves, as it’s all still so new.
What is vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by the heated nicotine liquid (often called “juice”) of an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette or e-cig), vape pen, or personal vaporizer. It’s also commonly called JUULing (pronounced jewel-ing).
What originated as a smoking cessation aid has quickly became a popular — and addictive — product in its own right. Sarper Taskiran, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, attributes the recent rise in popularity to packaging and advertising. “The teens are after innovation and they’re attracted by sleek design and ease of use,” he says. “They look like an Apple product.”
Although vaping companies emphatically deny that they are marketing to young people, critics note such features in their advertising as youthful images and colors, animation, actors who appear to be under 21, and suggestions that vaping makes you happier and improves your social status.
Although some of the health risks associated with vaping appear to be less severe than traditional combustible cigarettes (there’s no tar, for example), there are still risks.
Some known risks of vaping are:
- E-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine. According to the company’s website, the nicotine content of one JUULpod is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes.
- Because of these high nicotine levels, vaping is extremely addictive — and teens are already more susceptible to addiction than adults because their brains are still developing, which makes them more likely to habituate to using drugs and alcohol.
- Addiction can impact the ability to focus. Dr. Taskiran has observed this with the adolescents he works with, who report that vaping initially increases their alertness and attention, but then experience a decrease in attention span. One student, for example, was able to sit through practice ACT exams but after JUULing for six months “can’t sit still because she starts craving, can’t think of questions, and just starts fidgeting.”
- E-cigarettes and similar devices contain carcinogenic compounds, and a recent study found significantly increased levels of carcinogens in the urine of teens who vape.
- A recent study found that vaping does, in fact, cause lung irritation akin to that seen in smokers and people with lung disease and causes damage to vital immune system cells.
- Taskiran notes that vaping increases heart rate and blood pressure, so can increase circulatory problems. One teen he works with started vaping and found that his swim times dropped because he can no longer sustain the heart rate required for swimming.
Since they leave little odor, e-cigarettes are particularly easy to hide and even use discreetly in public places, including school. Kids are also vaping marijuana at increasing rates, which brings its own health risks.
Why parents should be concerned
One problem with vaping is that teens hear that it’s not as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes and think there is no harm. “They really think that they are mostly flavors and that they are inhaling a pleasant gas,” says Dr. Taskiran.
A recent study of 12th graders found that kids who vaped (but were not previously smokers) were more than four times as likely to “move away from the perception of cigarettes as posing a great risk of harm.” The study and others like it have showed that teens who vape are much more likely to start smoking cigarettes.
The packaging does little to convey the risks. “They are very enticing the way they look. It’s not transparent at all. It says 5% nicotine, which sounds like nothing, so teens think 95% is water weight or vapor,” laments Dr. Taskiran.
Plus, he points out, smoking never stopped being cool. It’s still positively portrayed in movies, and JUUL in particular has re-branded it to make vaping an even cooler alternative. But vaping isn’t only for the cool kids — many teens are curious (with flavors like mango, cucumber and crème, who wouldn’t be?) and presented with the opportunity will give it a try.
Sarah, a mom of two in Ann Arbor, MI, was shocked to get a phone call the other day from her son’s middle school principal, requiring her to come get him immediately for “emergency removal and suspension.” He and two friends had been caught vaping on school grounds after school, and a passing parent took photos and sent them to the administration.
Though they didn’t find any devices on her son — a straight A student with no prior offenses — the school, like many others, is taking a hard stance. “The principal knows that vaping is common and shared that the businesses in downtown Ann Arbor are selling to teens without asking for IDs,” relayed Sarah. “However, she feels the need to let my son and his friends know that it’s a really, really big deal.”
At this school, students caught vaping have to sign behavior contracts, must attend a Teens Using Drugs Class, and cannot participate in any sports, clubs or special events for the rest of the year. If the kids had been across the street, not on school grounds, it would have been a different scenario. But the principal said that had they been in high school rather than middle school, she would have called the police.
Sarah remembers what it was like to be a teenager so doesn’t think trying it is that big of a deal, but is concerned about addiction. “Addiction runs in my family and I worry about my son. Of course, I worry about the damage that the chemicals can do to his lungs and body as well,” she says.
Although some places are tightening restrictions locally, kids can still go to a website, click a button that says they are at least 21 years old, and purchase online. “The majority of adolescents I see are purchasing JUUL from the Internet,” says Dr. Taskiran.
How to talk to kids about vaping
Dr. Taskiran advises parents to start by educating themselves, so they know what they’re talking about going in, and to take an inquisitive and curious approach to what their teen’s experience is. “The most important thing is keeping it as a dialogue,” he says. “Declarative statements like ‘It’s bad for you’ just end the conversation.”
Dr. Taskiran recommends starting the conversation more generally by asking if a lot of kids at school vape. Once the conversation is initiated, you can slowly work up to asking things like, “What is your experience with that? What are the flavors like?” He also suggests getting a sense of what they know (or think they know) about the product, which gives you an opening to start educating them.
The silver lining of Sarah’s experience with her son is that he actually told his dad about the experience even before he knew he’d been caught. “They had a full one hour conversation about it after I was already asleep. He told my husband that he tried it for the first time and that it burned his throat and he didn’t like it.” She got the call from the principal the next morning before her son had a chance to tell her himself. “He’s a great kid and doesn’t really get in trouble except for talking in class because he’s bored. My goal has always been open communication and to keep him talking to us. He did!”
Of course, while parents need to educate themselves, the onus isn’t entirely on them. “Schools need to own this as well and provide educational strategies for both teachers and students,” says Dr. Taskiran. Prevention is a lot easier than treatment later on, he says, and notes that peer education can play a particularly important role.
If you are concerned that your child has become addicted there are plenty of treatment options. Dr. Taskiran recommends consulting with a clinician who is well-versed in addiction treatments. “This is a true nicotine addiction,” he says. “People usually think this is different from cigarette use — but it can be more severe than cigarette use.”
Important Info –
Next School Holiday is Veteran’s Day, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018
Thanksgiving Week Holidays… Monday – Friday, Nov. 19 – 23
New Trimester – Tardies
Just a reminder if your student arrives late more than 5 times each trimester (must arrive prior to the start of PCS Unity – 8:13am or DCS Unity – 7:55am) a meeting will be set up to place these students on an attendance contract. If tardies continue, these students will lose their priority as a Tracy Learning Center student.
Homework Support Room
We won’t be having homework support next week (Nov. 12 – 16), due to teachers being out off on Monday and conferences. Parents were notified on Nov. 5, 2018 and were reminded on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018..
Parents Club Update
Next PEP Mtg Dec. 19, 2018 at 6:30pm in P2
MHS Cheer Fundraiser
Millennium High School Cheerleading is selling personalized Starbucks hot cups and cold tumblers. These make awesome holiday gifts.
Please make checks payable to MHS Cheer.
We will be selling these through 12/05 so we can delivery prior to winter break.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Please include your child’s name and room number on the order form.
** order form for each style of cup is below each flyer.
Printable Order Forms:
PIE FUNDRAISER REMINDER:
Fundraiser ends Thursday, November 8th
The Pie Company will deliver the pies via freezer truck on Nov. 16 at our main site:
51 E. Beverly Pl. (next to the main office)
Pies must be picked up between 3:00-4:30
This is our only pick up day and time.
TLC cannot store orders that are not claimed before 4:30 on Nov. 16th.
All payments go inside the envelope.
Cash or check
Make checks payable to TLC or Tracy Learning Center.
Lunch Menu – Week Nov. 12 – 16
Mon. – Holiday
Tues. – Pizza
Wed- Turkey or PBJ Sandwich
Thurs – Corn Dog
Fri – Beef Hot Dogs
Tuesday was election day in TK! We had many responsible students running for the title of TK Class President, and they each did a terrific job creating posters and developing speeches to impress their friends. The children in the running for class president demonstrate such qualities, as: kindness, an ability to listen to others, a willingness to problem solve, and a desire to lead their peers. Ultimately, Cameron Johnson earned the title with the greatest number of votes by her peers.
Don’t forget that there will not be school this Monday, November 12th for Veterans Day. Enjoy your extra day off and we will see you back on Tuesday. Conferences are next week from Tuesday to Thursday. Everyone was assigned a date and time; if you are unsure of your time please email email@example.com.After Thanksgiving Break (November 19th-23rd) we will start trimester two. If you would like to volunteer in our classroom for the second trimester please return the slip with your availability and be sure to be cleared with Ms. Kay in the office.
Spelling Bee Competition
This week was the first of the county Academic Competitions. Fourth through Eighth grade students competed to go on to the county round in December. Luke Alger will be representing the 4th-6th Grade Division and Aurora Thompson will be representing the 7th-9th Grade Division. Below are the winners from all grade levels.
The First Ever TLC Choir Concert Under-the-Stars
Mr. Dougherty’s High School Choir Class joined his DCS classes for a Concert Under the Stars. It was a great evening full of awesome performances. Below are some highlights.
Dates to remember:
-Parent Teacher Conferences are next week!
-Thanksgiving Break begins November 19th
-There is no school November 12th in observance of Veteran’s Day
**Congrats to this year’s 7th/8th Spelling Bee winner! 8th Grader Aurora Thompson
***And another Congrats to our Marching Band for Winning First Place in their division last weekend!
This week all classes round out their first trimester in language arts by taking a final. This will be the last assignment in their gradebook for the first trimester.
Beyond that, students have begun reading Act 3 of Hamlet and are continuing to illustrate the scenes in their very own Hamlet booklets.
Students studied very hard this week to prepare for their vocabulary test they took on Wednesday. Students studied in groups playing heads up and their memory game, quizzing each other to make sure they aced their test! Next week students will finish up learning about the Great Society programs and dive into the Civil Rights Movement under President Johnson.
Test your Knowledge: Do you know any of these vocabulary words that our students just tested on?
-Civil Rights Act of 1964
-Voting Rights Act of 1964
-Community Action Program
DCS PE is it’s first week of the “Family Life Unit!” For the next three weeks, Monday thru Thursday, Male & Female students will be in separate classes learning about the human body and why they are experiencing the natural “Growing Pains” and changes of why their bodies, relationships and emotions are changing!!!
Also, as a friendly reminder, please remind students that they should be applying
“Deodorants/Antiperspirants/Baby Powder or Sanitary Wipes” in the morning before they are coming to school and showering daily; as their bodies have already begun puberty even though there may be no signs of it showing physically!
Grades will be dropping for science this week. Please email with any questions regarding grades. Science Olympiad applications have all been received, and students will be notified of their acceptance to the team on Monday. PLEASE NOTE: this year we were only able to get one team registered due to popularity of the event this year. We have a second team on the waiting list. Only 15-18 students will be selected. If the second team is moved from the waitlist, most students will be selected.
Thank you to all who attended MHS’ 8th Grade Parent night! We had a great audience of families who were full of questions and personal experiences with the Tracy Learning Center. Open enrollment is November 1 – November 30th. For more information and an application, please visit: www.tracylearningcenter.com
We had an incredible group of Millennium students who toured UC Merced and Fresno State this week! Campus tours are a wonderful way for students to learn more about specific colleges, their programs, and opportunities while seeing firsthand the college environment before they apply. Spring field trips are already being planned, so keep an eye out for future announcements.
Throughout the year, there are certain times when it seems that there is an abundance of community service opportunities. With the holiday season around the corner, it is important to remember the true purpose of community service. In the midst of a flurry of shopping, partying, and spending, it’s easy to forget about the multitude of people who are less fortunate. Encourage your students to participate with non-profit organizations such as Brighter Christmas or help at a local senior center serving holiday dinners. Parents, please stress the importance of reliability and follow through when your students sign up to volunteer. We pride ourselves in having reliable, hardworking, and dedicated students volunteering and hope to maintain strong relationships in the community while students learn the value of being a good citizen.
Hours are updated daily on the Aeries portal in your student’s gradebook. Please help us encourage your student to complete their hours and submit their forms to the Counseling office on a regular basis. To date, our student body has volunteered over 77,000 hours in our community! Keep up the great work!