First in a series of articles on vaping.

Have you been paying attention to the news about lung illnesses that are seemingly related to vaping? And the even more alarming stories about related deaths?

Did you know that many teens are vaping? The vapor does not smell or stay in the air long. Some vaping products are flavored like candy — are they meant to attract children/teens?

Recently Gov. Walz hosted a call with outstate media, about vaping among youth, featuring his health and education commissioners. He is calling for an aggressive outreach and policy response to youth vaping.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm spoke about findings of the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey, in which 25% of 11th graders and 11% of eighth graders reported using an e-cigarette in the past 30 days—significant increases for both ages groups since the 2016 survey. The survey also found youth are ill-informed about the health risks of e-cigarettes with 76% of 11th graders saying there is either no, slight or a moderate risk to using e-cigarettes.

Malcolm said nicotine in vaping products is highly addictive and harmful to the adolescent brain.

Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker said her department is providing schools with a toolkit that provides resources for school staff working to address the use of vaping products in schools.

Watch for localized information about youth vaping in future editions of the Herald-Dispatch.