Vaping Awareness Summit raises awareness among parents and students


Sasha Shapsis

Dr. Charlene Gaebler (left) and Sue Martin (right) observe another speaker.

The Vaping Summit held at Homestead High School on March 13 brought attention to the national issue of vaping and juuling amidst teens in middle and high school. It brought about the perspectives of parents, explaining how they can help their child quit and what approaches to take, and ultimately gave teenagers advice on how to do so.

Starting Point of Ozaukee, an addiction treatment center, teamed up with the Mequon-Thiensville School District (MTSD) and the Parent Teacher Organization to hold this event and raise awareness for vaping to inform parents and students of the potential dangers. With the help of many different professionals, the event conveyed messages to people of all ages.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Charlene Gaebler, informed parents and their kids of the hidden dangers of vaping and people’s blindness to the real health effects vaping has on the body and mind of a developing teenager. Gaebler also spoke on how vaping and juuling can impact young adults in the long term, “Some believe nicotine is the true gateway drug,” Gaebler said.

Vaping has reached epidemic proportions across the country among high school students. Since e-cigarettes first made their debut in 2015, the market has only skyrocketed. According to, in 2016, e-cigarettes made around $8.61 billion. In 2017, the market was worth more than $10 billion, a number which is projected to double by 2023.

Adults are getting more worried by the day regarding kids and vaping. Lorin Kelly, health teacher, spoke of the major concerns for high school students. “Since it’s such a new product, we aren’t sure of long term effects. It’s not legal to vape if you are younger than 18. You also cannot have them at school. If caught while at school, you face consequences legally, as well as a school suspension on top of putting chemicals into your body,” Kelly said.

Kelly also had advice for kids looking to quit. “If you are 18, you can purchase vape pens that have less nicotine in them. You can start off high and then slowly drop down to lower levels of nicotine,” Kelly said.

Another concerned parent, Lisa Lindsay, commented about her biggest take away from the talk. “I was surprised at how much medical information there is behind e-cigarettes. Obviously there’s risk factors and chemicals, but to hear them lay it all out was really surprising. Kids have very little idea what they’re putting in their bodies,” Lindsay said.

Brett Bowers, MTSD parent and Homestead principal, attended the summit himself to learn more about this ubiquitous issue. Bowers wants everyone to understand the risks of vaping. “I hope we all learn more about the health related issues. My biggest concern is that people are healthy,” Bowers said.