U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, was in Joliet Tuesday to speak with local state legislators, Joliet school administrators and staff about e-cigarette and tobacco use among students.
State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, and State Rep. Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, joined Durbin on the conversation for their input about what was going on at the state level in terms of kids’ use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
Durbin started off the conversation by talking about his father, who was a smoker and died of lung cancer at 53. The senator was a sophomore in high school at the time. He went on to talk about his work to pass a bill that would ban smoking on airplanes when he was in the U.S. House of Representatives. Durbin said some of the arguments about freedom of choice were compelling
“People would always say ‘Wait a minute, if you want to be so damn dumb and stupid enough to smoke, that’s still your business,'” Durbin said. “That was a pretty strong argument because people do stupid things. They get on motorcycles without helmets. They do what they want to do.
“But then an interesting thing happened. The political debate shifted, and people started saying ‘OK, then forget talking about adults. Let’s just talk about kids.'”
Now Durbin said he’s become concerned about e-cigarette use among children and wanted to hear about what Joliet schools have been experiencing. E-cigarette use among youth and young adults has become a public health concern, according to a 2016 report by the Surgeon General’s Office. The Food and Drug Administration chief also recently called the trend an “epidemic.”
Multiple principals from Districts 86 and 204 told Durbin about what they have been seeing in their schools and the incidents of younger and younger kids being exposed and influenced to smoke e-cigarettes. They also discussed the major impact of advertisements, especially online and through social media, that might be giving misinformation to young people.
Christopher Wild, a social worker at Gompers Junior High School and former substance use counselor, was able to give extensive insight into the products kids use and how they acquire them. He told Durbin about the kinds of products that have become very popular among children, specifically among high school students. Wild said it might be possible, even if kids are underage and unable to legally purchase tobacco products, for them to buy e-cigarettes online and even resell them.
“The teens are now seeing this trend coming back,” Wild said. “And it’s a lot more accessible for kids.”
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News,City: Joliet,Region: Joliet
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October 30, 2018 at 01:14PM