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Pilot Point students hear about vaping risks

Students at Pilot Point High School and Pilot Point Middle School were educated on the dangers of vaporizing substances including alcohol, nicotine, marijuana and other drugs on Friday.

The school decided to give the presentation because it seems like vaping is becoming more common and popular, PPHS Assistant Principal Tammy Niemczyk said.

“We catch kids vaping probably monthly,” she said. “[The presentation] was a preventive in educating them on all the effects of vaping.”

Motivational speaker and workshop coordinator for Johnson’s Success Through Attitude & Respect, Patrick Johnson, gave a presentation about the danger of vaping and other recreational drug use to the freshmen and sophomores at 8:45 a.m., juniors and seniors at 9:30 a.m. and the entire middle school at 2:45 p.m.

“I was watching CBS this morning,” he said. “There was a 15-year-old student from here in Texas that died. That brings the number of deaths due to vaping to 57 with over 2,500 serious cases of lung-related illness.”

When he did his first presentation about the dangers of vaping, there were only six known deaths related to vaping, he said.

At the high school, Johnson shared the story about his older brother who committed suicide as a result of drug use, with the group of students and said the topic hits close to home for him so he genuinely cares.

“He didn’t commit suicide due to vaping, but my point is he was on drugs, drugs in general,” he said. “Long after vaping has come and gone, there will be some other drug that big money will specifically target you all with. I didn’t come here to give y’all some sweet little speech. Vaping is serious.”

Johnson drove three hours to share how drugs affected his family and how they didn’t lead to anything positive, he said.

“You all are our future, students,” he said. “They say one in four students in high school is vaping. I’ve gone to speak to a group of fifth graders about vaping. For some reason, it continues to get worse and worse.”

Vaping is not regulated, he said. So, companies can put whatever they want to into their product.

The presentation included a 20-minute video titled, “Vaping: More Dangerous Than You Think,” published in 2015 by Human Relations Media.

The video featured testimonials of high school and college-aged teenagers who are vaping or have vaped. It also educates the audience that more than just tobacco can be vaporized.

“One of the most frightening things about the current younger adolescent and young adult craze with vaporizing alcohol, marijuana e-cigarettes and other drugs is that we have no long-term research,” according to the video. “But what we do know is really bad.”

Every e-cigarette comes with a kit in it that contains different levels of nicotine, according to the video. Nicotine affects what’s referred to as the addiction center of the brain.

“They hook you with a small amount of nicotine, and you are now addicted,” according to the video. “… It elevates your blood, increases your heart rate. It is only broken down through the liver and your kidneys.”

Vaping can alter you brain activity, and it has been shown to increase cancer risks by as much as 800 percent, the video says.

Pointing to the students in the cafeteria, who were attempting to digest the information, he said there’s a lot of potential in the room.

“I came here. This is business,” he said. “To let you all know, if you are vaping you need to stop. It’s that simple.”

The problem is entitlement issues, he said. People must work for what they want.

“You all have too much hope and promise,” he said. “And sometimes, students, we need to just tweak a few things in our lives to make it better.”

As the assembly came to a close, the group of juniors and seniors heard the bell and rushed off to their classes.

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