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What you need to know

Statistics from the ¹2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey and ²2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey)


of high school students drank some amount of alcohol in past 30 days¹


of high school students and 5% of middle schoolers used e-cigs in the past 30 days ²

Dear HSI Community, On December 18, 2018, Surgeon General Dr, Jerome Adams issued a rare advisory: “I am officially declaring e-cigarette use {vaping} among youth an epidemic in the United States.” ( The young developing brain is more susceptible than the adult brain to nicotine addiction. Indicators of withdrawal for active users can include symptoms such as anxiety, mood changes, loss of focus, and sleep problems.


increase in e-cig use among high school students from 2017 to 2018, and 48% for middle schoolers²

these devices, along with advice on how to start a conversation with your teen. Our HSI Wellness Team followed up with letters to their districts this past fall. This spring, SHD is collaborating with several community partners such as Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital, San Mateo County Health Department Tobacco Prevention Program, Breathe California, and the Stanford Tobacco Prevention Toolkit, in their education and prevention efforts. We want to inform the community about the real risk vaping poses to our youth. In this newsletter, we speak to experts in the field and our own school administrators, review articles, present facts, and more.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous vaping companies can easily tap into that vulnerability to ensure that they will have an entire generation of future customers. They do this through manipulation of We hope you will be our allies in protecting our our youth through social media advertising and youth. sleek product designs that mirror popular tech products. Sincerely, This epidemic has garnered local, state and federal attention. Last month, Senator Jerry Hill introduced an assembly bill to limit the sale of Karen E. Li, MD e-cigarette flavors and to require an adult Director of School Health signature upon delivery for online device purchases. Last summer, I sent out a letter (see page 5) informing high school parents of the dangers of 525 Veterans Blvd,

Redwood City, CA 94063

( 650) 421-2155

Nicotine Poisoning Alert By 2015, e-cigarette use by

As of 2016, the federal government requires liquid nicotine to be sold in childproof

high school and middle

packaging. The American Academy of Pediatrics

school students had

(AAP) urges parents who use e-cigarettes to store

surpassed cigarette use.

the products and any refill materials in childresistant packaging and out of the reach of children. There are three routes of exposure that are toxic:

4 out of 5

who have

1) the child can be exposed to nicotine, even without swallowing, through the mucous

used tobacco started with a flavored product.

membranes in the mouth 2) the child swallows the e-liquid, and it is absorbed by the intestinal tract

A single Juulpod contains

40 mg of nicotine, which is more than the nicotine yield of a pack of cigarettes.

3) the e-liquid is absorbed through the child’s skin, just like a nicotine patch The bottles are sold in various sizes, from 10 milliliters (2 teaspoons) to more than 30 milliliters (6 teaspoons) and come in a variety of nicotine strengths. Five milliliters (1 teaspoon) of concentrated liquid nicotine can be fatal for the

63% of Juul users

do not know the product always contains nicotine.

Resource list for parents: 

FDA Tobacco Products

Glossary of Terms

average 26-pound toddler.

Liquid Nicotine Poisoning Symptoms:     

Vomiting Fast heartbeat Jittery and unsteady appearance Difficulty breathing Increased saliva

If you suspect your child was exposed to liquid nicotine, call the Poison Control Center hotline: 800-222-1222 immediately. For more info, visit the Poison Control website.

The article above is an excerpt from the online article “Liquid Nicotine Used in E-Cigarettes Can Kill Children.” To read the full article, click HERE.


Talking to Youth


Preschool to Age 7

Ages 12 and up

Before the Talk

Lay the Groundwork Whenever you give a fever medicine or an antibiotic to your child,

Know the facts.

Be patient and ready to listen. 

you can discuss why and when these medicines should be given.

Take Advantage of Teachable Moments


The #1 reason young people try these devices is because they have flavors in them.

nicotine addiction, and what smoking does

in a nonjudgmental, open-ended way, you're

advertisement, for example, take the opportunity to talk about it. 

Explain the addictive nature of


Why don’t you want me to use ecigarettes?

more likely to get an

You go to the bathroom,

Show your kids that you're there’s a zero percent listening and really paying chance that anyone’s attention to them by smoking a cigarette and “So what I am hearing you there’s a

need to talk,” you might ask

Answer Their Questions*

about drugs. By asking the questions

practicing active listening:

Rather than saying “we

When you are out and about and see an

It looks like a USB drive. It doesn’t look suspicious.

Ask them what they think

honest response.

about a situation you witness together.

TV with a cigarette, talk about smoking,

Ages 8 to 12

Start the Conversation

your teen what he or she thinks

If you see a character in a movie or on

to a person's body.

Set a example by being

50/50 chance

say is— ”

that there’s five guys

Current events, such as


What’s the big deal about nicotine?  

Aren’t e-cigarettes safer than

conventional cigarettes?

I thought e-cigarettes didn’t have nicotine— just water and flavoring? 

Keep the Conversation Going

steroid use in professional

Share resources listed below.

sports, can be

Remind and repeat.

springboards for casual conversations about the legal and health consequences of drug use.

For the source of these tips and additional talking tips, click HERE.

Watch the video Juulers Against Juul

with your teen.

*For the answers to these questions and additional talking tips, click HERE.

INTERVIEWS By Stacey Holmes

Bonnie Halpern-Felsher Mindy Shelton Bonnie Halper-Felsher, PhD., is a professor at Stanford University and the founder and executive director of the Tobacco Prevention Toolkit, a free online curriculum aimed at reducing and preventing youth tobacco use. Currently, she is promoting the Toolkit with the goal of reaching 500,000 youth by 2020.

Q: What are the main issues today? A: The number one issue for youth and ATOD is vaping/e-cigarettes. Other significant issues are opioids, marijuana, and alcohol. Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how big of a problem is vaping? A: An 8 out of 10. I have been asked daily, since last October, to talk about this subject. Two areas of focus are detection and addiction. There are two groups of high schoolers— one group that knows about vaping and don’t use. The other group knows about vaping and uses.

Bottom line: Your high schooler knows about what is going on. Q: If you had one wish to help this problem, what would it be? A: I wish for all parents to get educated. It is crucial to get educated and to have open dialogues with your children. Don’t be afraid to talk and stay current. Start the conversation about tobacco, including vaping, in 4th grade. For parents who are interested in making an impact at a national level, please feel free to contact me at

Mindy Shelton is the Vice-Principal at Central Middle School in San Carlos. She explains that many students don’t understand the harmful effects of vaping.

Ms. Shelton’s concerns include: 

Kids describe “no-nic* juice” as safe. They don’t realize there are still harmful chemicals inside.

*Disclaimer: No-nic juice may contain nicotine. The manufacturing process is not yet federally regulated and we often do not know what contents are in e-cigarettes.

Many students don’t think to ask what is in a vape before trying it and have no way of knowing how much nicotine, marijuana, or other substances are included. 

It is hard for parents to keep up with what these vaping devices look like. They can resemble, among other things, a stylus or a flash drive. After seeing examples of some common devices, one parent commented that they had seen something similar in their child’s room but didn’t realize what it was.

Ms. Shelton encourages parents to talk to their children and trust their gut. For example, if you see them having extra charging cords, that may be an indicator. If something feels out of place, follow up.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT Dear HSI Community, We want to inform families about a recent upsurge in the use of vaping devices by middle and high school students. Teens who vape nicotine may find it difficult to stop, as nicotine is extremely addictive. They often think it's just water vapor, but the enticing fruit, candy, and mint flavored solutions can contain high levels of nicotine, along with other toxic chemicals, that are harmful to the developing teen brain.

Assorted vape pens

Suorin Drop


They are marketed as JUUL, Suorin Drop,

Suorin Air, or Phix. These devices are small and easy to conceal.  They can look like a thumb drive, can be recharged in a laptop, and can be refilled with other substances such as THC/ marijuana oil. There is minimal vapor, and the only odor may be that of fruit, candy, or mint, which appeal to youth. The nicotine in one JUUL pod at least equals that in a pack of cigarettes (20 cigarettes). Other devices, often referred to as “wax pens,” are sold specifically for the vaping of marijuana. Similar to other marijuana products such as “edibles” (marijuana in cookies, cakes, candy, etc.), these vape devices are marketed to youth, despite the legal age of 21 for use of nicotine, tobacco, or the recreational use of marijuana.


HAVING A CONVERSATION Ideally, it’s best to start the conversation with your teen without causing alarm. Get their perspective, and ask “why” before suggesting “why not.” Realize that they may have done their own extensive online research. Share your concerns and the facts, while understanding that facts may not be initially accepted by your teen. The frontal lobe of the brain, responsible for decision making and critical thinking, has not yet fully matured. Try to determine if your teen is surrounded by vaping activity, takes part socially, or uses by themselves. Also keep in mind that the use of substances is often intertwined with mental health issues, so seek help for your teen if you are concerned about signs such as depression or anxiety. For further information: NY Times: Talking with Teens About Vaping For a list of local community resources, click HERE.

Wellness “Wonder Woman”

Part of the Menlo Park City School District’s “Strategic Directions for Wellness,” includes engaging in the outreach and support of traditionally underrepresented students. During the 20162017 school year, this effort led to the creation of a position of Flor Espinal, aka a Family Engagement “Wonder Woman” Coordinator.

their own, and how to navigate academic expectations and a sense of belonging and connection to their children’s school, to ensure wellness for all of our families. Flor Espinal leading January 17, 2019 Family Cafe

The “College Bound Family Cafe” parent The universe blessed MPCSD with Flor Espinal, a education series has one goal in mind: BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. Ms. Espinal has organized five former District Para-Educator, and District cafes since February 2018, and topics have parent whose own children fit the category for included: communicating with your child and “traditionally underrepresented their school, how to access and use the school’s students.” Recognizing as a parent and employee that there was a divide between these messenger and technology systems, and how to balance family wellness and self-care. After underrepresented families’ awareness and each event, participants fill out surveys to connection to the schools, led to her determine efficiency of the cafes, and what involvement in the expansion of MPCSD’s topics families would like to engage in next. “College Bound” program. “College Bound” provides encouragement, services, and Ultimately, Ms. Espinal’s relentless and empathic programs for students who, by one measure or approach to family engagement and wellness is another, are “underrepresented” in the nation’s beyond honorable and authentic. She supports colleges and universities. families with Spanish interpreting services, acts as a liaison for College Bound students’ At first, Ms. Espinal’s efforts focused around educational and social-emotional needs, and is MPCSD’s District English Learner Advisory always available, almost 24/7, to receive phone Committee (DELAC), and with this work, the calls and texts from the families she serves. Flor dream and vision for “Family Cafes” was cultivated. Drawing upon her own experience as Espinal has earned the title of “Wonder Woman,” and is absolutely a superhero for wellness in our a young woman and student in Honduras, as District. well as being an English Language Learner herself, Flor knew that what College Bound College Bound families needed was a safe place and time and parents engaging venue where they could engage in parent with each other at education trainings, and become empowered to Family Cafe advocate for their children. These parent trainings became specific to sharing experiences of raising and educating children in a culture that may be different than

181 Encinal Avenue

Atherton, CA 94027

(650)321-7140 Email:


 Every child achieves academic excellence.  Every child becomes emotionally and physically stronger.  Every child discovers and grows their talents.

181 Encinal Avenue

Atherton, CA 94027

(650)321-7140 Email:

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2019 Winter HSI Newsletter_MPCSD