Page 10 THE MALDEN ADVOCATE–Friday, April 5, 2019 Health offi cials report a surge in underage vaping By Barbara Taormina M alden is pushing back against a growing trend of teen vaping with information, enforcement and support for tighter regulations. Earlier this year State Senator Jason Lewis and Maureen Buzby, a regional tobacco coordinator with the Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition, led a panel discussion about e-cigarettes and vaping at Malden High. Buzby has also been leading workshops on vaping with parents, teachers and school staff , and this week she and Board of Health member D.J. Wilson spoke to the City Council about what is being described as an epidemic of vaping among teens. “In 2017, we saw rates around here of maybe 20 percent of kids vaping, but administrators are telling me it’s 40 or 50 percent or more and worse because it’s moved into middle schools,” Buzby told councillors. Wilson, who is also the tobacco control director for the Massachusetts Municipal Association, said the spike in teen vaping has been so dramatic that school superintendents have been reaching out to him for help. “We had the lowest levels of smoking, maybe 6 or 7 percent of teens, but its back at around 25 percent because of vaping,” said Wilson. Buzby said that vaping is deceptive because many kids and adults believe they are inhaling water when they are really breathing in vapor from heated oil that contains high levels of nicotine as well as harmful chemicals and tiny particles. And because nicotine levels are so high, e-cigarettes are highly addictive. Buzby said students craving nicotine are vaping in school, and even in class. Wilson and Buzby highlighted the problem with Juul, a brand of e-cigarette that looks like a fl ash drive and is available in a variety of fl avors, such as mango, cucumber and vanilla crème. “It’s a brand of e-cigarette that [is] very effi cient in its design and strength to hook a lot of kids,” said Wilson, adding that Juul’s marketing targets young people. At the start of the year, new state regulations raised the minimum age to buy tobacco and vaping products to 21 and made vaping illegal in places where traditional tobacco products are banned. But Buzby and Wilson are proposing stricter controls. In Malden, most fl avored e-cigarettes can only be sold in adult-only vape and smoke shops. However, mint and menthol e-cigarettes are still available in convenient stores and other shops that sell tobacco products. Because kids are still using the mint and menthol flavors, there is a proposal to also limit the sale of those products to the vape shops. Ward 1 Councillor Peg Crowe suggested that higher taxes should be part of the strategy to discourage vaping among teens. Governor Charlie Baker has proposed expanding the current tax on cigarettes, which is $3.51 a pack, to e-cigarettes. But the proposed tax has been criticized by some who fear the higher prices will drive people who vape back to smoking traditional cigarettes, which are still considered a greater health threat. And this week, Juul announced it has hired some high-powered help to fi ght off such anti-vaping initiatives. Former state Attorney General Martha Coakley has taken a job with Juul and will work to switch cigarette smokers to vaping. Coakley will also lead eff orts to prevent underage vaping. Councillors off ered to do whatever they could to support measures to regulate ecigarettes and prevent teens from vaping. “I’m afraid for these kids,” said Council President Jadeane Sica. “We don’t have the research to see the effects of these products 10 or 15 years from now.” A City shows its support for residents with autism By Barbara Taormina t the end of this week’s City Council meeting, Council President Jadeane Sica stopped to speak directly to the audience at the Senior Center, and residents watching the meeting from home. “I just want to take a moment to let you know why we are all wearing blue this evening,” said Sica. “Today is April 2, and it is World Autism Awareness Day, a day to increase the understanding and awareness of a condition that aff ects many in our community.” The councillor’s gesture of support for individuals, children and families coping with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a developmental disability that can cause social, communication and behavioral challenges, refl ects how far communities like Malden have come in their response to the disorder. Schools, faith communities, civic organizations, and social and municipal services all have a role in supporting the rapidly growing number of children and adults with autism. To mark Autism Awareness Looking for a home loan?                  15 YEAR 30 YEAR 3.625% RATE 3.990% RATE                     3.733% APR* 4.051% APR* Learn more about our rates at EVERETTBANK . COM                                                                                                                           Day, the Malden Police have launched a new program called SafeWatch which will help offi cers identify individuals who are at risk of wandering away from home and becoming disorientated and lost. The program was designed to ensure the safety of seniors, people suffering from dementia and children and young adults with autism. SafeWatch provides police and emergency personnel with information needed to answer a call and quickly fi nd a missing person. Police will identify vulnerable individuals, their families and caretakers so that they can respond to an emergency in a knowledgeable manner than ensures the safety of the registered individual and others who might become involved. The program is free, voluntary and confidential. Anyone interested in learning more about SafeWatch or registering for the program should call Sergeant John Kelley at 781-397-7171 ext. 1226 or email him at jkelley@maldenpd.com. Residents can also contact Detective Steve Mulcahy at 781-397-7171 ext. 1406, or at smulcahy@maldenpd.com. Applications for SafeWatch will be available at the front desk of the Malden Police Station and will soon be available on the department’s website. Malden Police have been expanding their community outreach eff orts, and they look forward to launching SafeWatch to increase the safety and security of children and young adults with autism. And according to statistics, SafeWatch is a program that will meet a growing need. A recent report from UMass Medical School estimates that in 2005 approximately 10,000 children throughout the state, or one in 250, had autism. In 2010, those numbers jumped to 13,065 cases, or one in 110 children. And by 2015, 20,383 children, or one in 68, were believed to have ADS. A more recent study published in the journal Pediatrics at the beginning of this year suggested that the prevalence of autism may be as high as one in 40 children. Spring Penny Sale slated for April 9 ourt Maplewood Catholic Daughters is hosting a Spring Penny Sale on Tuesday, April 9 at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall (790 Salem St. in Malden). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. – 100 chances for $1.00 C – special raffl es every 15 minutes. Everyone welcome; coffee and dessert served. Proceeds support local charities. If you have any questions, please call Christine at 781324-8993. Like us on Facebook advocate newspaper Facebook.com/Advocate.news.ma

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