Editor's column

The topic of vaping has been knocking around in my brain for quite awhile. I wanted to do research and write an article about it. I wanted to include local input from schools and doctors and public health.

I wanted to do all that, but news kept getting in the way. Covering city meetings, community events, school activities and some sports, formatting submitted news, it never stopped. Vaping just kept moving down the list of ideas for articles.

That’s why I was glad to receive the email invite to join Gov. Walz’s call on youth vaping, a little over a week ago. I was glad to hear from the health and education commissioners about the prevalence of vaping among young people in Minnesota and what they plan to do to combat it.

That call was just what I needed to get started on a project about vaping. This week I just covered some basics. In the weeks ahead I will provide more local information. I’ve spoken with school administrators and health teachers. I spoke briefly with some local doctors. Our county Public Health department will provide more information.

I have just a couple of thoughts to leave you with on this topic today.

A doctor told me that if parents think their kids are not vaping, they are fooling themselves.

While these illnesses and deaths that have been in the news appear to be linked to vaping THC, you might say: “I would never do that; my kids would never do that.” The simpler danger is that kids are becoming addicted to nicotine through vaping.

One more thing — and this one is for grandparents to also be aware of — this tip came from a presentation sponsored by USAC (Underage Substance Abuse Coalition) last year. They’d invited a police officer, whose tagline was “Tall Cop Says Stop” (he was tall!) to speak.

Tall Cop pointed out that children and teens can purchase synthetic drugs, street vapes (meaning those not sold in stores), and other items you certainly don’t want them to have, on the internet with credit cards. His message was, “Don’t give kids gift cards that work like credit or debit cards. They can buy anything with them. If you want to give kids a gift card, buy one that is for a specific store where they like to shop.