Cobb Juvenile Court Judge Jeff Hamby, alongside industry experts, participated on Aug. 20 in an informative session held at Harrison High School to inform parents and students about the dangers associated with vaping.

The one-hour educational session was held to bring knowledge and awareness to the harmful effects of vaping and encourage attendees to become active participants in prevention efforts in the community.

In addition to Judge Hamby, attendees heard from pediatric nurse practitioner Laura Searcy and attorney Phyllis Gingrey Collins, who provided statistics about the harmful effects of vaping and discussed the law surrounding it.

“With the increase we are seeing in vaping among our youth, we feel it is important to help educate our community on its dangers and harmful long-term effects,” said Lucia Poole, Harrison’s assistant principal.

The Cobb County Juvenile Court reports approximately 40 new cases involving vaping since the start of the 2019/2020 school year.

“The problem we are discovering is kids aren’t aware of what is actually contained in vaping devices and end up with criminal charges for possession,” said Judge Hamby. “Parents, talk to your kids. Kids, talk to your friends. The more aware we are of the dangers associated with vaping, the more likely we are to protect our youth from experimenting with these harmful products; which can lead to addiction.”

Searcy, who currently serves as the program coordinator for the Georgia Tobacco Free Youth Project, discussed the common misconception that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking.

“Youth believe when they are vaping, they are only inhaling water vapor when in fact, 99% of all e-cigarette products contain nicotine,” said Searcy.

She outlined a list of other harmful ingredients found in vapes including lead, formaldehyde, nickel and harmful chemicals found in pesticides, paint thinner, batteries and even gasoline.

She explained while companies like JUUL, a popular vape manufacturer, have altered their marketing strategies to avoid targeting youth, enticing flavors continue to serve as bait to lure youth to the product. She revealed the results of a study performed by the Truth Initiative, a non-profit public health organization, which found 43% of young people tried ecigarettes simply because of the appealing flavors.

The Cobb County Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse is hosting a fundraiser on Sept. 12 from 5 to 10 p.m. at Jason’s Deli, 945 Ernest W. Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw. Participant can mention CCPASA when ordering and Jason’s Deli will donate 15% of all proceeds to CCAPSA to aid in prevention efforts.

“We as a community have to work together for the best interest of our children. The way we accomplish this is by educating our youth about the dangers associated with vaping and by participating in community prevention efforts,” said Judge Hamby.

For more information, visit www.dph.georgia.gov/tobacco and www.ccapsa.org.

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