Local health care providers consider vaping rehab programs, education for students

Published: Sep. 20, 2019 at 6:37 PM CDT
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Walmart announced Friday it will stop selling vaping products once its current supply runs out. The decision comes just one day after Missouri's Department of Health reported the state's first vaping-related death. Now local health providers are starting to look at how to get people to quit.

Jim Brawner is a Community Educator with CoxHealth. His dedication to helping others fight addiction recently took on a new challenge with what he's calling the vaping "epidemic."

"When I look into a situation and the first thing I get from a client, an adolescent, out of their mouth is, 'I can't quit,' You know they're desperate," Brawner said.

That's why, Brawner said, it's important to warn kids about the dangers of e-cigarettes before they can even get their hands on one.

Cara Erwin, Community Wellness Coordinator with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said the department is working hard to get ahead of the problem.

"We know that if we can catch these kids before they try it, we're much more likely to keep them from becoming addicted to the substances," Erwin said.

Erwin said the health department and Springfield Public Schools have partnered to bring education to the table, warning students as early as sixth grade about the dangers of vaping in their health classes.

Erwin said SPS is piloting a program in two schools that requires kids who vape in school to take an online course during detention or suspension.

"It actually talks to the kids about the dangers of vaping, and what the long-term consequences are, to hopefully change some of that behavior," she said.

She said the program gives students an option to quit, then they're given resources to do so. Brawner knows asking for help is easier said than done.

"My 'why' has to be vivid in my mind in order for me to think about change," he said.

CoxHealth is considering programs that help wean people off vaping just like quitting tobacco. The health department said parents play an important part, too, leading by example and having conversations with their kids.