Letter to the Editor

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Dear Editor,

AIDS, suicides and homicides, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, car crashes are all pretty serious things that cause harm and death. We should be trying to prevent these from happening. But did you know that Tobacco kills more people that all of these combined?! The Surgeon General has labeled tobacco use as the number one most preventable cause of disease and death; its responsible for 5 million deaths per year. The newer product, electronic cigarettes, are thought by some to be “less dangerous” than traditional cigarettes, but I would suggest that we know enough to not want to make this next generation a guinea pig for e-cigarettes.

In Indiana, tobacco use causes 11,100 deaths per year. But still the tobacco companies are blatantly marketing to youth through bright ads and labels at convenience stores and in magazines. E-cigarettes have recently gained great popularity, especially in young people. In Indiana, 15.6 % of high school students report using e-cigarettes, with 12% using cigarettes, and 9.3% using cigars (Indiana Youth Tobacco Survey, 2014.)

I have seen people, wearing vape pens around their neck and vaping in the hallways at our school. I’ve seen kids pull them out during class and think they are so funny getting away with it because most teachers don’t even know what they are.

I appreciate that Richmond High School has included electronic cigarettes in their tobacco free policy, but I would ask that Richmond Community Schools follow suit to do the same. Richmond Community Schools is the only public school system in Wayne County not to include the e-cigarette in their tobacco free policy. We need a clear message from our leadership that says, “Our students’ health matters, and e-cigarettes are not a healthy option.”

E-cigarette aerosol can contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals, says the American Cancer Society. The “vapor” is not just water vapor. There have been toxic and cancer causing chemicals identified in the air exhaled by uses. To a person who has a health conditions like heart disease or asthma the chemical mixture could be especially threatening.

E-cigarettes are not FDA approved, the ingredients do not have to be made known to us and the devices don’t have to pass safety standards. Just recently, a man driving a truck on 70 heading towards Richmond, was vaping and his e-cig exploded. A huge accident on the highway followed.

The high nicotine concentration in the refill bottles and cartridges has proven a threat, mostly to small children and pets that get into them. Calls to the poison control center has escalated by thousands in the past couple years. Several American children have died because of ingesting the nicotine. So if a person is using the product, they need to put it out of reach, just like any other poison or medicine.

E-cigarettes are not a healthy option. Richmond Community Schools should consider adding the electronic cigarette specifically to the tobacco free policy.

Rachel Weikart
Voice Student

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