Parents can learn about vaping in an upcoming public meeting in Grand Haven.

The Teens & Vapes: A Parent Town Hall planned for 6:30-8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, at Loutit District Library, is an opportunity for parents to learn more about the trends, symptoms of use and more.

The meeting will include speakers Leigh Moerdyke, prevention and advocacy manager for Arbor Circle; Grand Haven Township resident Carolyn Taylor, who will share her family’s experience with vaping; and Dr. Sean Cunningham from Mercy Health. It is being presented by the Ottawa Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

Vaping has been the topic of meetings starting last year in Hudsonville, Holland, Coopersville and Jenison, Moerdyke said.

As a parent whose teenage son vaped and had a nicotine addiction, Taylor said she’s passionate about raising awareness, and she feels it’s more impactful to hear a personal story.

According to the 2017 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey (YAS), almost 32 percent of the county’s teens indicated they had used an electronic vapor product. Twenty percent of teens reported they used the product in the past 30 days, which is up from 14.3 percent in 2015.

Moerdyke said they expect that trend to continue to rise.

“Our teens really are involved in this trend,” she said.

When e-cigarettes were first rolled out, they were marketed as an alternative for smoking tobacco cigarettes. And though people have been successful in weaning themselves off tobacco, Moerdyke said there are concerns about how the product is being geared toward younger markets like teens.

Almost half of the teens surveyed in the 2017 county assessment perceive there is little risk to vaping. Moerdyke said teens don’t understand how much nicotine they consume because the vape juices have different nicotine concentration levels.

In recent years, more information about the chemicals in e-liquids has come to light. Moerdyke noted that diacetyl vape is found in some e-liquid flavors, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration removed diacetyl from being allowed in foods. Parents should also be aware that THC can be used in vape products, Moerdyke said.

In addition to attending the meeting, Moerdyke encourages parents to visit talksooner.org for information about vaping.

If teens are vaping, Moerdyke suggests parents speak with their child’s primary care physician and a mental health clinician, because it’s an addiction. Although parents might feel like their teenager isn’t listening to them, Moerdyke said parents are the best prevention and intervention.

“If you don’t talk to them as a parent, they’ll get their information elsewhere, and it won’t necessarily be accurate information,” she said.

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