Concerned mom brings anti-vaping campaign to Morton and Henry Clay
Fayette County Public Schools encourages families to get involved in education, and one active mom has answered the call once again. This time, Kim Thompson is campaigning against electronic cigarettes – small, battery-powered vaporizers that simulate smoking without burning tobacco.
“There is much we still do not know about the dangers of e-cigarette use, but the alarming trend in increasing use among teens and preteens is real and staggering,” said Dr. Thompson, an assistant professor of internal medicine and family medicine at the University of Kentucky’s Polk Dalton Clinic. “Most do not know that the nicotine in one Juul can be up to 20 times that in a regular combustible cigarette, not to mention the toxic particles that enter and remain in the lungs with each use.”
National news outlets cite a progressive, severe pulmonary disease related to vaping. The patients – mostly adolescents and young adults – experience a cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue that leads to hospitalization and sometimes death. As of Sept. 6, more than 450 cases in 33 states had been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Thompson.
“As a parent and physician, I feel the need to do something,” said Thompson, who serves on the School-Based Decision Making Council at Morton Middle and at Henry Clay High School. “I prepared presentations for the SBDM (councils) and secured 100 posters from the FDA for distribution around each school. We have distributed free educational materials to staff at these schools and are scheduling a college-led presentation for the students delivered by a UK group called Tobacco-free Take Action.”
Morton Principal Ronda Runyon said recent media attention has spurred communities to take action. “Dr. Thompson’s anti-vaping effort is one positive step forward in educating our youth about this dangerous habit. At Morton, we’re more than grateful for her efforts and pleased to be participating in this campaign,” Runyon said. Penny Christian, president of the 16th District PTA, has also passed the word to PTA and PTSA chapters across Lexington. “Parents are the ones who see the results (of vaping). They’re the ones sitting at the bedside,” she said.
Thompson, also the founder of Cassidy Elementary’s annual weeklong Special Needs Awareness Program or SNAP, brings the anti-vaping campaign to a district already well aware of this latest threat to students’ health. In spring 2019, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department secured a grant from Stanford University that enabled FCPS to train several health/P.E. teachers and Family Resource and Youth Services Center staff. The employees also received a free tobacco prevention toolkit that includes a module on e-cigarettes.
“We trained bus drivers and monitors this summer to be aware of the signs of vaping, Juuling, and pod-based nicotine use. Our principals have also requested training at one of their District Leadership Meetings,” said Debbie Boian, Health Services coordinator for FCPS. “It is by far one of the greatest health risks to our students in a long time. The devices are fairly inexpensive and can be manipulated to not only deliver flavored nicotine but other substances as well. We welcome any assistance we can get to educate parents and students so they do not become addicted.”
How to help
For more about the anti-vaping campaign, please email Dr. Kim Thompson. For additional resources, check with the health/wellness teachers at school. For broader questions about Health Services in FCPS, contact coordinator Debbie Boian at (859) 381-3849.