New county health educator focuses on vaping, other programs

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Sonya Lenzendorf

Vaping devices are being manufactured to look like flash drives or other computer related devices.

 

By Ted Pennekamp

 

The new Crawford County Health Educator began her duties on Feb. 11 and has been assessing the health education needs of the county in order to help prepare programs.

“I’ve been going over the community needs assessment and talking to community partners to identify the gaps where we can provide health education,” said Health Educator Sonya Lenzendorf, a lifelong area resident who lives in Seneca.

One health education program that Lenzendorf will offer soon will involve e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, which has become quite popular among high school and middle school students in recent years. Lenzendorf said she not only will aim to educate youth to the dangers of vaping, but will also educate their parents and school personnel as to the new and innovative devices that are making vaping increasingly hard to detect.

“The numbers of youth who are vaping is sky-rocketing,” Lenzendorf said, in noting that smoking of regular cigarettes among youth has been going down for many years. Now, however, vaping has taken over and continues to soar.

One myth surrounding vaping is that it only involves water vapor or mist, and therefore is not as dangerous as smoke or tar that is ingested with traditional cigarettes.

“Vaping is still dangerous,” said Lenzendorf. “There are fine particles that are inhaled and exhaled along with carcinogens. It’s like an aerosol.” Lenzendorf said people sitting near a person who is vaping can inhale the fine particles as well. “There is just not enough research or regulations on vaping yet,” she said. “The laws are behind.”

The vaping companies are definitely targeting youth, said Lenzendorf in citing the candy flavored e-cigarettes. People 18 and over can legally vape, but Lenzendorf noted that vaping devices and products can be purchased online, which makes it easy for underage people to get them.

In addition, the companies have gotten clever, and vaping devices now resemble flash drives or other such computer devices. A parent might walk into their son’s or daughter’s bedroom, for example, and smell candy and see a device next to the computer that looks like a flash drive and think nothing of it.

In addition to vaping education, Lenzendorf said other programs that might start relatively soon include suicide prevention education and support as well as child passenger safety and making sure that car seats are installed properly.

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