Local health officials react to reports on vape increase among youth

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PHILIPPI, W. Va. (WDTV) - The use of vaping is increasing among teens, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is threatening years of progress curbing use among youth.

"They have this notion that is safer than cigarettes but in all honestly is not safer if any," said Annette Fetty Santilli, administrator for the Barbour County Health Department.

The CDC found that use of tobacco product, including e-cigarettes have increased 38%, and among high school students it spiked to 78%, and locally in Barbour County.

"The principal at [Philip Barbour High School] there has told me that there's more problems with vaping than anything else, other than tardy," she said.

So at the Barbour Health Department, they're trying to find ways to educate teens about the dangers of vaping.

"We're going to do a presentation at Philip Barbour High School to let the kids know how bad vaping is for them," she said.

Some strategies include:

"We have information all throughout the health department and then we also have social media presence. we're doing a campaign to get the word out of the dangers of vaping," she said.

Since the beginning of this school year, 5 news spoke to different high school principals who say they have been setting tougher rules.

"We have been treating it like a tobacco violation," said Buckhnnanon-Upshur High School principal Eddie Vincent, back in December.

Also, they found solutions instead of punishments, including providing classes on tobacco dangers. But they hope programs like "Bright Futures" will help reduce those numbers, especially in West Virginia.

"It's based on the Icelandic model of drug prevention, that the longer you can delay kids experimenting with this stuff, the less likely come addicted to any harmful substance," said Fetty Santilli.