When I moved to Colorado a decade ago from New York, I was single and childless and thinking only about myself. Now, married with children, I think only (or mostly) about my kids. Fortunately Colorado is a lovely, healthy place to think about and raise children. Lifestyles are more active than anywhere else I’ve ever seen and the general focus on wellness is wholly positive, particularly when you’re trying to raise girls with high self-esteem.
Kids here aren’t perfect little rosy-cheeked cherubs who get their highs exclusively on top of a mountain, however. Just like everywhere else, kids drink and do drugs, although perhaps not as much in the town where I live as other parts of the state. Then last year voters in Colorado passed a law legalizing the sale of marijuana (which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014), which will allow kids better access to marijuana.
Granted, pot isn’t the worst thing in the world — I’m not saying it’s any better or worse than alcohol, for instance — but it’s one more thing that parents need to be concerned about when their kids walk out the front door because it’ll so be much more available in the new year, and, really, who wants their kids smoking anything? Every since medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado, studies have shown that more kids have been smoking it than ever before.
Now comes the news that joints aren’t the only thing potentially picking up steam with kids. According to NBC News, government officials recently released data showing the e-cigarettes and hookahs are gaining in popularity among middle and high school students in the United States. The feeling is that kids think they’re safer than traditional cigarettes, even though they’re said to still be addictive and potentially deadly.
The attraction to e-cigarettes for kids could also be because they’re priced lower than cigarettes. The percentage of kids in high school who’ve tried the doubled to 10 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — although the overall numbers are still pretty small (1.1 percent of middle-school kids and 2.8 percents of high-school kids have smoke e-cigarettes, and 5.4 percent of high school kids have used hookahs). Also growing in popularity among kids? Little cigars. (Can I get a collective “Ewwwwwwww?”)
The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate e-cigarettes the same way they do other tobacco products, although they’re hopeful that will change. Especially since e-cigarettes aren’t gaining in popularity as cigarette smoking kids are declining — because the latter’s numbers are not dropping significantly. The CDC says that more than 2,000 teens and young adults “become daily smokers every day.”
It’s not as if I thought living in a state where much of the recreational activities are centered around the outdoors meant I had a free pass as a parent, and therefore my job here was done. It’s just that I hoped today’s younger generation was a bit savvier than those before them as to how they could prevent so many of the illnesses that afflicted and killed their grandparents and great-grandparents before them.
Then again, maybe I’ve just been living around legalized marijuana for a little too long now.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
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