JEFFERSON COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV)-- Thursday night, Watertown High School gave parents the space to see and smell the vaping devices their kids may be using.
Disposable vaping devices
In partnership with local service organizations, the school invited a vaping prevention expert to break down the essential information about vaping, from figures to photos, showing its impact on teen health.
Ashleigh Nowakowski, the executive director of Your Choice, said that many parents think they know a lot about vaping but, in fact, have trouble recognizing signs of its use.
“It’s a smell you can’t really describe unless you actually smell it,” she said. She best described it as if somebody put on a sweet, fruity lotion.
The presentation also included a table of vaping devices, including JUULs and Suorin Drops, for parents to observe up close and touch.
“Kids are a little more advanced than us,” Tammy Foerster, the school’s social worker, said. “I think we missed the boat when this came on, and kids were already addicted, maybe. Now here we are in a kind of a crisis.”
Forester said about one in five students at Watertown High have vaped regularly in the last month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in four high school students reported using an e-cigarette in 2019.
Freshman Gage Adkins said he had never used a vaping device but knows a lot about it through his peers.
“Kids will always hide stuff from you [parents],” he said. “Especially small stuff like this.”
Nowakowski demonstrated how a small vaping device can easily be concealed up a sleeve.
Sue Putra, a grandparent and high school dance coach, said she came into the presentation knowing very little but is walking away with applicable insight.
“My takeaway is I’m going to be more vigilant, I think, in looking at what kids are hanging onto,” she said.
A full version of the presentation was recorded by Watertown TV and, according to the videographer, will be uploaded to its website.