Talking to Your Teen About Vaping

Illinois PTA has highlighted the issues surrounding vaping and teens for many years and continues to focus on the issue in alignment with our 2018 resolution on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). We’ve also highlighted National Public Radio’s (NPR) partnership with Sesame Workshop that created their Parenting: Difficult Conversations podcast, a part of NPR’s Life Kit. Now, NPR has an article on how to talk to your teen about vaping.

Unlike cigarettes, vape pens often look like USB drives, are easy to conceal, and don’t leave a lingering odor on their clothes. As more than 1,000 cases of illness and several deaths have been linked to vaping, parents are becoming increasingly concerned about whether their child is vaping. The article from NPR focuses on seven key points when talking with your child about vaping.

  • Explain the health risks, because some kids don’t know
  • Highlight vaping’s ties to Big Tobacco
  • Establish open dialog
  • Help your kid practice saying, “No”
  • Teach, don’t preach
  • Go easy on yourself: You’re not a bad parent if your kid vapes
  • Get smart, and get help

The NPR article digs into each of these points with suggestions on how to initiate and continue a conversation with your child about vaping.

Photo © 2016 by Mylesclark96 under Creative Commons license.

Illinois PTA Supports Governor’s End to Seclusion

Illinois PTA strongly supports Governor JB Pritzker’s decision to end seclusion of students by schools. The move comes following a ProPublica Illinois investigation in conjunction with the Chicago Tribune into the use of restraint and seclusion in Illinois public schools. The investigation documented more than 20,000 incidents from the 2017-2018 school year and through early December 2018, a significant fraction of which did not meet the legal requirement of a student posing a safety threat to themselves or others.

Illinois PTA has advocated for limiting the use of restraint and seclusion in accordance with the 2015 National PTA resolution on the issue. Restraint and seclusion are most often used on students with special needs, and as documented by ProPublica Illinois, are often used in situations where student safety is not a concern (e.g., spilling milk, swearing, or refusing to do classwork). Parents are often told little or nothing about what has happened to their child.

The trauma associated with the use of restraint and seclusion can have lasting effects on children. In 2012, the US Department of Education noted that secluding students was dangerous and that there was no evidence showing it was effective in reducing problematic behaviors. Far too often, restraint and seclusion are illegally used as disciplinary tools, not for student safety. In some instances, improper use of restraint and seclusion has resulted in the death of a student.

In accordance with the governor’s directive, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has announced emergency action to immediately end the use of restraint and seclusion in Illinois schools. Illinois PTA supports this emergency action and is prepared to work with ISBE, the governor’s office, and the General Assembly to education families on this issue and support legislation to end the practice of restraint and seclusion.

ENDS Update

In 2018, Illinois PTA Convention delegates passed a resolution on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). The resolution followed years of tracking the data and science surrounding ENDS use by youth, and Illinois PTA continues to keep its members informed about new developments. Once again, e-cigarettes are in the news, with reports of pulmonary illnesses and even deaths, including one here in Illinois.

The investigations into the causes of the illnesses and deaths are ongoing, with THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) vaping juice and vitamin E acetate found in many of those THC cartridges sampled being one early area of focus. However, a recent study in the journal Radiologyindicates that vaping itself can damage lungs.

The study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania performed MRI exams on 31 healthy, non-smoking adults between 18 and 35 before and after taking 16 three-second puffs on an e-cigarette containing only “vaping juice,” a mixture of water, glycerol, and propylene glycol, the latter two being used in vaping cartridges to keep additional chemicals such as nicotine or flavorings dissolved in the cartridge.

The results of the study showed that even in non-smoking, first-time vapers with no nicotine in the cartridge, the use of an e-cigarette resulted in poorer circulation, stiffer arteries, and less oxygen in the blood. As the study’s principal investigator, Felix Wehrli, put it, “The results of our study defeat the notion that e-cigarette vaping is harmless.” Although both chemicals used in the study, glycerol and ethylene glycol, are considered safe to eat, they may not be safe to inhale.

Photo © 2016 by Mylesclark96 under Creative Commons license.

News from National Convention—Resolutions

At the 2019 National PTA Convention last week in Columbus, OH, delegates adopted one new resolution and amended two other existing resolutions. The first, dealing with financial literacy, came from Illinois PTA. The other two dealt with energy drinks and lead. The financial literacy and lead resolutions both had minor amendments approved by the delegates, and the amended language is included below. The links to the resolutions in this post are to the proposed language, and the amended language should be up on theNational PTA resolutions pagein the next few weeks.

Resolution on Financial Literacy

This resolution is an updated version of the resolution passed at the 2017 Illinois PTA Convention. Financial literacy remains a critically underdeveloped skill for our children, and this resolution broadens the reach of the original Illinois PTA resolution to a national scope. The amendment from the delegates added that PTAs advocate for inclusion of financial literacy in state standards as well as in curriculum. The resolved clauses as adopted by the convention delegates are:

  • That the National PTA and its constituent associations encourage dissemination of information, and training opportunities to families and students in financial planning and budget balancing techniques to foster financial literacy
  • That the National PTA and its constituent associations advocate to address the need for financial literacy education and share concerns regarding financial literacy education provisions with appropriate decision-makers at the federal, state and local levels
  • That the National PTA encourage its constituent associations to advocate at the state and local levels for financial literacy to be included in standards and curriculum
  • That the National PTA work with the Financial Literacy and Education Commission and the United States Department of Education to ensure that all students are provided financial literacy education

Resolution on Dangers of Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Energy Drinks

Adopted at the 2009 National PTA Convention, the original resolution addressed only alcoholic energy drinks. The amendments adopted at this year’s convention expand that coverage to non-alcoholic energy drinks, as the high levels of caffeine and other stimulants in non-alcoholic energy drinks have also resulted in the deaths of children. This amendment also brings the National PTA resolution in line with the 2013 Illinois PTA Resolution on Energy Drinksby adding a resolved clause that supports a ban on selling all kinds of energy drinks at K-12 schools. The amended and new resolved clauses are:

  • That National PTA and its constituent associations educate parents, students, administrators, teachers and community members about the dangers of consuming alcoholic and non-alcoholic energy drinks
  • That National PTA and its constituent associations seek legislation requiring that alcoholic energy drink manufacturers provide prominent alcohol content percentage on the label, as well as health and safety warnings indicating the dangers of combining alcohol with caffeinated beverages
  • That National PTA and its constituent associations urge decision makers to ban the sale of all kinds of energy drinks in all K-12 schools

Resolution on Lead Poisoning Prevention

While the resolution passed at this year’s convention on lead poisoning prevention was presented as an amendment, it is in fact a completely new resolution, since the entire text of the existing resolution was struck, new resolution text was inserted, and the title was amended to add “Prevention.” The original language passed at the 1976 National PTA Convention focused on increasing awareness of lead poisoning and supporting the recently passed legislation that eliminated lead from gasoline and limited its use in other products.

Today, the effects of lead poisoning are well known and the dangers for our children stem from lead sources that were not addressed in the previous federal legislation. These sources, such as lead pipes and solder that leach lead into drinking water are now among the most common ways that children are exposed lead. Concern over lead in school drinking water resulted in the passage of SB550 in 2017 here in Illinois. The National PTA Convention delegates amended the third resolved clause to include advocacy for lead testing as well as remediation. The resolved clauses as amended are:

  • That the National PTA and its constituent associations support the removal of all sources of lead from use, including its complete removal of lead from all paints, building materials, and consumer products
  • That the National PTA and its constituent associations encourage the safe and responsible removal of lead from existing uses, including lead in paints, plumbing, and in other building materials
  • That the National PTA and its constituent associations advocate for lead testing and the remediation of lead contaminated soils and water
  • That the National PTA and its constituent associations promote advocacy around policy changes to prevent lead poisoning