Vaping not discussed in Ga. health classes

Vaping not discussed in Ga. health classes

In Howard High School's health class and others across Central Georgia, they cover a textbook full of topics. 

"Marijuana, tobacco, and also smokeless tobacco," health teacher Danny Slaughter said.

He started teaching high school health 30 years ago. 

According to a CDC study, last year, more than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes or vapes in the past 30 days. Looking at the current standards, they don’t require schools to teach anything about vaping. 

"They get the flavors. They taste good to them, they think it’s cool," Slaughter said. 

While cardiothoracic surgeon Norman Hetzler at Coliseum Hospital says vaping is far from cool, it's hazardous to anyone’s health. 

"It's sort of a juice box with nicotine," Hetzler said. "The younger kids especially, teens they're going, 'Well, this is pretty good and I'm not smoking a cigarette,' but it really isn't."

He says the ingredients in some vaping liquids can be toxic. 

"Formaldehyde, which we use to preserve bodies, acid aldehyde, and benzene, which is one of the most cancerous chemicals out there," Hetzler said.  "Now we're just giving it to kids to breathe every day."

The CDC's website says vaping is safer than regular cigarettes, but they conclude it isn't safe.  

"South Georgia Vapor" manager Angelo Lane says he gives that information from the CDC to his customers.

He says the goal isn't to get teens hooked, but get smokers to quit.  

"You don’t know what’s going to happen down the line. That’s why they have that little leeway in there," Lane said.  "Other than that, I would rather take the safe route than keep doing something else."

He doesn't sell to anyone under age 18, like the law requires.

"We typically will see lung cancer in folks who have been smoking a pack a day for 20 years. Well, vaping hasn’t been around for 20 years," Hetzler said. "We haven’t seen our first lung cancer from that yet, but I'm sure that will see that coming up."

According to the National Institute of Health, teens are 30 percent more likely to start smoking tobacco within six months of starting to vape. 

And that's why teachers like Slaughter say in the textbook or not, it will be in his lesson plans. 

"We'll start adding the problems with vaping," Slaughter said, believing it may be too late if teens aren’t made aware of risks now. 

The Georgia Department of Education last updated the health standards in 2009. They are currently taking input for updates to the state health standards now.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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