Study: Pandemic stress possibly causes some students to turn to vaping

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Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 6:34 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Some officials are worried pandemic-related stress is causing students to take up vaping.

The National Youth Tobacco Survey recently released by the CDC found that more than two and a half million teens say they use e-cigarettes.

Tammy Riley, Public Health Director for Pike County, said the stress of the pandemic could play a role in the staggering numbers.

“We know stress is a trigger for individuals who smoke and anecdotally we are told stress is a reason people begin smoking.” she said.

Dr. Timothy M. Kline, the Principal at Pike County Central High School, said he saw an increase in students vaping after they returned to school from pandemic related NTI days. Cline says part of it could be students being on their own at home, but he also recognized the stress some students were under.

“Nicotine has been a known stimulant for years and it’s been a device, or a tool that people have used to deal with things,” he said, “and what better time than a pandemic to look for ways to deal.”

Tammy Riley said roughly one in eight high schoolers in Pike County, compared to the roughly one in ten national average.

Riley said its a worrying trend because tobacco use in youths has been linked to skeletal and brain development disruptions.

“When you think of these young children starting tobacco use at an early age, what that’s going to do their growth and their brain development is scary.” she said.

Riley said Pike County has multiple anti-smoking health initiatives in schools. For middle schoolers, the ‘Too Good For Drugs’ program focuses on prevention of all kinds of harmful substances.

High schoolers have the ‘NOT’ program, which is a free, ten-week program focused on getting high schoolers who are addicted to nicotine, unhooked.

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