Gaston County teens urge leaders to crack down on vaping

Vaping has lit a match under teen smoking. According to a recent report from the CDC the news is not good when it comes to teen tobacco use. The organization says any progress made on reducing teen smoking has been lost and the main reason is e-cigarettes. 

Nearly 5 million young people were using tobacco in 2018 and there were 1.5 million more e-cigarette users compared to the year before. 

A group of teens in Gaston County wants lawmakers to set restrictions on teen vaping in their community.

The high school seniors are part of the Youth Advisory Council through Cancer Serices of Gaston County. They are conducting a photovoice project that details tobacco use through photos.

last year their pictures focused on tobacco and the environment. This year, they have taken pictures of e-cigarettes and are studying how the growing trend impacts people their age.

"A lot of my classmates I know, they use e-cigs and they Juul. My goal is to make an impact and teach our peers about how it's harmful using these products," said Priyanka Patel and Mariam Jailwalla, two members of the council.

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Alyssa Mouton is a public health educator for Gaston County. According to a county assessment, 49 percent of Gaston County students reported trying e-cigarettes. Another 27 percent reported using them.

"We have seen youth in our community reporting rates of usage above 20 percent and that's not something we want," Mouton said.

Mounton's office building is a tobacco free zone. County leaders are considering strengthening tobacco policies on county owned property. The specfic language and a vote could come later this spring.

The Gaston County School District does not keep track of specfic ofensses related to e-cigarettes. In 2018, there were 114 incidents of students using tobacco on campus and 140 incidents of students possessing tobacco.

So far this year, there have been 46 incidents of tobacco use at Gaston County schools and 109 incidents of posssession.

Anyone seeking help in quitting anyh form of tobacco products at no cost can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.