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Hope Students learn addictive danger of e-cigarettes

Edie Greenwood, left, BSN, RN, community health nurse specialist for the Arkansas Department of Health, discusses the impact of nicotine on the brain during a presentation on substance abuse and the use of e-cigarettes during Red Ribbon Week at Hope Academy of Public Service. – Ken McLemore/Hope Public Schools

HOPE – A key component to Edie Greenwood’s presentations to public school students these days did not exist when her audience at Hope Academy of Public Service entered the first grade. Now, e-cigarette usage among teens and pre-teens is one of the fastest growing health issues in the United States.

Greenwood, who holds a BSN and is a Registered Nurse, is a Community Health Nurse Specialist for the Arkansas Department of Health who is an embedded specialist at the Southwest Arkansas Educational Cooperative on the University of Arkansas-Hope campus. She spoke to students at HAPS Oct. 30 during Red Ribbon Week in the Hope Public Schools.

“I work primarily through the cooperative in making these presentations,” Greenwood said.

She admits the work is constantly evolving because of the changes in substance abuse cultures; such as the misconceptions about e-cigarettes.

“Juul is a brand of e-cigarette; it is more popular because of its advertising directed toward you,” Greenwood tells the HAPS students. “And, guess who is more receptive; it’s the girls.”

She said e-cigarette manufacturers such as Juul use flavor components such a fruit flavors to attract the preferences of girls, particularly, who as pre-teens and teens have brains more highly susceptible to addictive influences. But, she said, boys are similarly receptive to the use of flavoring, which lends false security to the idea e-cigarettes are not addictive.

“Some Juul pods may have as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes,” Greenwood said.

Nicotine, she said, is as addictive as any drug.

She emphasized the nature of the product as nothing more than a nicotine delivery system. As well, the vapor exposes the lungs to chemicals which are produced during use which are known cancer-causing agents, as well as toxic micro-particles of the metal vaping device itself, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“They are harmful to your body,” Greenwood said. “Nicotine can cause cancer; and, cancer will kill you.”

She admits the success of smoking cessation programs over the past decade or more has made the rise of e-cigarette usage something of a surprise to health professionals by perpetuating the dangers of cigarette usage in another form, including the dangers of second-hand smoke.

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