Hundreds of students, parents and staff gathered at Rancho Bernardo High School on Tuesday for a seminar explaining the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.
The meeting came just one day after the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released startling data about the trend growing in popularity among young people.
“It seems like there's an increase in the number of students who are engaged in this activity because they're being sold this idea that it's safer,” Rancho Bernardo High School Principal David Lemaster said.
And according to the AAP, the idea they’re being sold is a lie.
The academy says teenagers who use e-cigarettes are more apt to use traditional cigarettes, and 78 percent more high school students tried vaping last year compared to the previous year.
What’s even scarier? The AAP says 5 percent of our middle school students tried e-cigarettes in the last month.
“The increase in the number of students that are using just based on the national statistics is staggering,” Principal Lemaster said.
Lemaster says he isn’t blind to what his students are doing, and that's why he was open to hosting a formal discussion on campus.
He says his eyes were opened to the problem while meeting in a smaller group called "What I Wish My Parents Knew."
The group is made up of principals and faith and community leaders who put on forums where parents can come and listen to students and staff about the challenges they face in life and on campus.
Vaping is one of those things the students said they wish their parents knew about.
“We just as a community want to be able to work with parents to help educate them, let them know what they need to be aware of and signs to look for,” he said.
Lemaster says if the community works together to solve the issue the chances of success will skyrocket.
In December, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said parents, teachers, health professionals and government officials must take "aggressive steps" to keep children from using e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes and other vaping devices have been sold in the U.S. since 2007, growing into a $6.6 billion business. Most devices heat a flavored nicotine solution into an inhalable vapor. They have been pitched to adult smokers as a less-harmful alternative to cigarettes, though there's been little research on the long-term health effects or on whether they help people quit.
Federal law bars the sale of e-cigarettes to those under 18.