The Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition hosted a vaping education night at Crestview Middle on March 4.
"We really want to talk about the number of kids nationwide who are getting involved with vaping," said Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition Coordinator Lili Schliesser. "It's skyrocketed over the last couple years. It's really important for people to understand the precursors, the risk factors and why students are using."
Schliesser said once an adolescent starts vaping, it is often difficult for them to quit.
"We're going to talk about the health risks – what we do know and what we don't know," added Schliesser. "The fact of the matter is vaping hasn't been around a long time, and we don't know what the long-term consequences are. We are certainly aware it's not good. The main thing is how bad it is for the developing brain. It really wires these kids for a life of addiction."
Step Up of St. Louis Executive Director Erin Kelley presented information on what vapes are, how they're used and where kids get them.
"I hope parents become more aware of how many different kinds of devices there are," said Kelley. "You can't really stop this by being an overbearing parent. You need to educate your child regarding the devices and how prevalent they are in the community. It's not a school issue, it's a community issue."
Rockwood Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles was among those in attendance.
"We hope our attendees gathered additional information to help combat this epidemic impacting the health and well-being of our children," said Miles.
Dr. Keith Street is health educator with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.
"It's not good for anybody," said Street. "Some adults say it's a smoking- cessation tool, but it has not been proven. For adolescents or children, it's not alright at any level. Nicotine will affect the brain and how it develops, and there are consequences for that."