Parents must remain vigilant about synthetic drugs

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – Health officials want parents to stay vigilant about synthetic drugs.

This is because they say synthetic nicotine is becoming the substance of choice for children.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free St. Joseph County and Smoke-Free St. Joe hosted a community event Thursday titled “Synthetic Drugs: The Danger Is Real.”

The roundtable was moderated by Becky Savage, founder of the 525 Foundation.

“Whenever we host events like this, we hope conversations are started. Every time a conversation can be started, a life can potentially be saved, and that’s what we all hope for,” Savage said.

Health officials and community leaders say synthetic nicotine is the drug of choice for young people and that tobacco companies are doing what they can to target this population.

“My goal here tonight is to make sure people know what’s really going on there. As a parent myself, when I came back to tobacco, e-cigarettes had really taken off. I asked my kids, ‘is that really a thing?’ and they said, ‘Mom, this is worse than you think,’ said Sandi Pontius, tobacco education coordinator for St. Joseph County.

Health officials have said that nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs.

Their goal is to organize events like this to help reduce abuse among young people, in the hope that it will improve their overall health and quality of life.

Pontius did assessments of retail tobacco stores in the county … and shared his findings during Thursday night’s discussion.

“So you see in certain areas of the city, in certain areas of the city I should say, there are a lot of tobacco retailers. In other parts of the city you don’t see many. There are reasons for this. Everything is intentional. The tobacco industry targets certain groups, ethnic groups, low incomes, young people. They know that 90% of smokers start before the age of 21,” Pontius said.

Health officials hope our community will advocate at the state level to ban the sale of synthetic nicotine products, as well as flavored products.

And will fight misinformation and industry attacks.

If you have a child struggling with addiction right now, there is help out there.

The 525 Foundation helps thousands of children in our community.

Click on here for more information.

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