Moffat County School Board gets lesson on vaping |

Moffat County School Board gets lesson on vaping

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition Executive Director Lindsey Simbeye gives the Moffat County Board of Education a presentation on vaping during its regular meeting, held Thursday, Sept 27.
Sasha Nelson/staff

CRAIG — Grand Futures Prevention Coalition Executive Director Lindsey Simbeye gave the Moffat County School District Board of Education a presentation on vaping during its regular meeting, held Thursday, Sept 27.

Cigarette use is declining nationwide, but vaping is on the rise, Simbeye said. Vaping uses an electronic device to simulate the feeling of smoking tobacco. It works by heating liquid to generate an aerosol the user then inhales.

Vaping is on the rise among teenagers and young adults across the country, Simbeye said. The legal age to buy a vaping product is 18, and while cigarette smoking is stagnating in Colorado, the percentage of people vaping has more than tripled in the past few years, from 7 percent to 23 percent, she added.

About 45 percent of high school students nationwide admit they have experimented with vaping, but cigarette use among that group has dropped by about 30 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

Vaping is not a safer alternative to smoking, Simbeye said, because the aerosol vapor from such products often contains dangerous toxins, including heavy metals and chemicals known to cause cancer. In addition, the vapor includes addictive components that are also found in cigarettes.

These chemicals have a negative impact on developing brains and can cause long-term cognitive and behavioral impairments, Simbeye said.

“It can cause ‘popcorn lungs,'” she said. “It’s like when people smell popcorn steam that was just popped. It is a condition that damages your lungs’ smallest airways and makes you a cough and feel short of breath.”

The most popular vaping product among young people is JUUL, Simbeye said.

The product appears similar to a USB drive, and users inhale the vapor from the device’s tip. In fact, parents and teachers often mistake JUUL products for USB drives. The product itself retails for about $32, and the refill cartridges are about $16.

Simbeye disputed JUUL’s claim that the company does not market to children. Having varieties such cherry and other fruity flavors entices younger people to try their product, she said.

“JUUL is the No. 1  product in schools,” Simbeye said. “A lot of the time, they are purchased from their peers who are able to buy the product legally.”

Moffat County School Board of Education and staff view a slide that shows an example of JUUL vaping products that look like thumb drives.

In an effort to curb vaping in schools and among young people, some Colorado counties have raised the legal age to purchase vaping products to 21.

However, there are other means of vaping that don’t require the use of a vaping product, Simbeye said. She said such methods are known as vaping mods, and the practice is called “stealth vaping.”

Vaping mods appear as everyday objects, such as pens, markers, and even Altoids tins.

Simbeye noted that Steamboat Springs High School’s school resource officers recently confiscated a Sharpie marker that had been converted into a vape pen.

Besides vaping mods, there are also clothing items that help hide vaping. For example, a hooded sweatshirt with strings around the hood can be used to vape. Simbeye said parents need to be educated on how to spot vaping products, mods, and other health issues.

Grand Futures will give a presentation on vaping at Craig Middle School at a future date, Simbeye said. The organization also plans to work with schools on how to develop a message about the effects of vaping and related school policies.

Contact David Tan at 970-875-1795 or