Prior to a Sept. 17 meeting, Chippewa Valley Coalition for Youth and Families Executive Director Charlene McGunn said the group is in strong support of whatever laws take vape products out of retail stores and online sales.

Prior to a Sept. 17 meeting, Chippewa Valley Coalition for Youth and Families Executive Director Charlene McGunn said the group is in strong support of whatever laws take vape products out of retail stores and online sales.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


Chippewa Valley Schools coalition, district respond to vaping ban

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published September 24, 2019

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP/CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A local coalition fully supports Michigan’s vaping ban.

On Sept. 11, Chippewa Valley Schools sent a message to district parents encouraging them to talk to their children about the dangers of teen vaping.

The email was sent one week after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a ban on flavored vapes, making Michigan the first state in the nation to move to ban flavored vape products in an effort to deter minors from starting the habit. The ban took effect Sept. 18.

Dr. Charlene McGunn, of the Chippewa Valley Schools Coalition for Youth and Families, said the group is in strong support of whatever laws take vape products out of retail stores and online sales.

“We’re very concerned about kids vaping,” she said. “These products are targeted to kids by having vape flavors that appeal to students.”

McGunn sent a letter to Whitmer that concludes with a message of support for the ban, also hoping the Michigan Legislature can step forward and take a stand to protect youth.

The accessibility of vape products is what worries McGunn.

“We’re concerned with youth access, and youth tell us they are readily available to buy,” she said. “This is a product that’s been advertised with a lot of deceptive information.” 

On Sept. 9, Whitmer directed the state Department of Health and Human Services to issue emergency rules banning the retail and online sale of flavored nicotine vaping products for six months, pending further action.

“This has a big effect on our school district because vaping is an issue in our district, and it’s an issue at school districts across the state,” Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts said. “To have someone like the governor come out and take a stance on it is important because I think that really informs parents.”

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control stated that it, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of lung disease associated with e-cigarette product use.

The CDC notes that e-cigarettes work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs. The liquid can contain nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, cannabinoid, or CBD, oils, and other substances and additives.

The coalition consists of several task groups and committees, such as youth alcohol use prevention, youth vape prevention and youth prescription drug abuse prevention.

Chippewa Valley High School seniors Phillip Girimonte and Madeline Zihlman are coalition members and said they don’t see fellow students vaping in school, but indicated that students post images of themselves vaping on social media.

Girimonte said the ban doesn’t affect his life, but overall, the ban will hopefully prevent teens from starting vaping.

Zihlman believes students are vaping as an alternative to using cigarettes.

“There needs to be a better alternative, but vaping isn’t a better alternative,” she said. “Once students start vaping, they get addicted.”

Girimonte said being on the coalition is helpful when it comes to educating his peers.

“The amount of information we receive is so in-depth,” he said. “I’m telling kids about stuff they’ve never heard of. It’s really enlightening to them.”

Roberts said with vaping, folks overlook the impact on kids.

“They don’t think about it and you can see with vaping, it started as a safe alternative to cigarette smoking and morphed into a lifestyle with all these flavors,” he said. “Kids are susceptible to marketing campaigns, and I think parents have been led to believe there’s not the reason for alarm that there should be.”

In the message sent to parents, the coalition identifies a program to help teens stop vaping, where individuals can text “Start My Quit” to (855) 891-9989 or call that number. It is a free confidential resource for teens only.

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