What mom and dad don’t know: Schools release video geared toward vaping, tobacco awareness | TheUnion.com

What mom and dad don’t know: Schools release video geared toward vaping, tobacco awareness

Devices confiscated over a two-week period at a western Nevada County high school.
Photo courtesy of Val Camp


What: “Tobacco, Vaping and Marijuana: A Parent’s Guide to a New Epidemic,” a video produced by the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools’ Tobacco Use Prevention Education program.

Where: The educational video can be found online at www.NevCo.org and will be shown to parents and guardians at Nevada County back-to-school-nights this fall.

When it comes to vaping, marijuana and tobacco use, the consensus among Nevada County teens appears to be that it’s more “normal” than not to partake in any or all of these, and that access to these substances is easier than ever before.

This has put health and education officials on alert, as there appears to be a disconnect between what teens know and parents think they understand about current substance abuse issues.

“There are a lot of new products on the market that didn’t exist when today’s parents were teenagers,” said Marlene Mahurin, Tobacco Use Prevention Education program coordinator for the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools. “Our goal is to educate them on current youth trends with vaping and marijuana and provide support and resources.”

In a concerted effort to reach as many parents as possible, Tobacco Use Prevention Education, has produced a parent education video, “Tobacco, Vaping and Marijuana: A Parent’s Guide to a New Epidemic,” paid for by the California Dept. of Education. The locally produced video includes interviews with students, educators and health professionals, and provides up-to-the-minute information on what vaping is, what the hazards are and how marijuana has changed in potency in recent years.

In the video, Ira Sachnoff, president of Peer Resource Training and Consulting, translates this into real numbers.

“Hippies smoked weed in the 60s and they were getting high on THC levels of 2 to 3 percent,” he said. “But right now the average marijuana in California has 25 percent THC.”

Many students think vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes, said Mahurin, yet they often don’t realize they are being exposed to aerosol, which contains such chemicals as benzene, formaldehyde, nickel and cadmium, known to cause cancer and birth defects. And adding THC concentrate in liquid form to nicotine — a common practice — makes for a powerful cocktail.

Isaiah Marcum, a 20-year-old former Nevada Union student who is featured in the film, said he started vaping in high school because of the flavors — plus the device was easier to hide than a pack of cigarettes. Then he incorporated marijuana use into his daily vaping habit and “fell down the rabbit hole of addiction.” This led to a drop in grades and being consequently cut from his beloved sports teams. It got worse from there. Today, Marcum, who is now in recovery, uses his experience to warn teens about the hazards of vaping and marijuana use.

“I think I began getting high as a way to cope with stress,” Marcum said. “I think a lot of teens do that. There’s a lot of teen depression and suicide in the U.S. The key is finding people who can support you — you’re at your most vulnerable in high school.”

The video is designed to be shown at “back-to-school nights” and other events where parents naturally gather, said Mahurin. Nevada County middle and high schools are expected to show the video at area schools in the coming weeks.

Information on how tobacco, vaping and marijuana use can effect health and brain development in teens is included in the video, as well as tips on how to best educate young people and support them in making healthy decisions.

“Now we’re seeing it across lines — it’s everywhere from athletes to kids in the auto shop,” said Shaun Hurtado, a former vice principal at Nevada Union High School who is now principal at Ready Springs Elementary School. “Basically it’s getting into all groups now. Vaping really started to take off at NU at the beginning of last year. It was getting crazy by the end of the year — we were confiscating two to three a day.”

To view “Tobacco, Vaping and Marijuana: A Parent’s Guide to a New Epidemic,” online, visit https://vimeo.com/285704355. To learn more about the TUPE program, visit the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools’ website at http://www.NevCo.org.

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.

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