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As the costs, dangers and stigma associated with cigarette smoking increase, many people are turning to e-cigarettes, also called vapes, as an alternative. Some people mistakenly think the vapes are cleaner and less dangerous. There are many myths surrounding e-cigarettes and law enforcement officers are finding the vapes are making their way into the drug culture as well.

Recently, Jermaine Galloway, aka the Tall Cop Says Stop, visited Porter County. Among the numerous topics he discussed was an informative session on the use of vapes. The following article is taken from his website and can be found in its entirety by visiting www.tallcopsaysstop.com.

“Vape pens are sweeping the country, but what we are quickly finding out (and many people still don’t know) is what is actually inside those vape pens.  First, there are no absolutes when you talk about a vape pen or e- cigarette.  There are vapes that work for nicotine, flavored oils without nicotine, marijuana and even synthetics. Many people are vaping marijuana, right in front of you, and you may have no idea. Therein lies the rub.”

Not everyone smoking an e-cigarette is using drugs. Law enforcement, however, is finding that many people are using them with marijuana and synthetic drugs. According to Galloway, “Marijuana concentrates and vape pens are the perfect marriage. Concentrates come in oil, wax or crystal form, and the current version of vape pens can work for all three.

“When law enforcement officers and the public were first introduced to vape pens, many of us learned an electric device vaporizes a liquid form of nicotine. Many forms of nicotine are found in vape shops, convenience stores, gas stations, grocery outlets, and even alcohol outlets depending on the state. 

"Many of the pens you see that are being used for nicotine look similar to some of the pens in the drug world and vice/versa.”

Depending upon your point of view, one advantage/disadvantage of the vape pen is that no one knows what you are inhaling. Galloway goes on to say, “Over the last few years, vape pens for drug use have become popular. They can be colorful, small and very discrete, with the latter being a large selling point to these various pens. Imagine: sitting in class, at a stop light next to a police car, in a dance club or even in a movie theater taking a hit of a drug and no one around you even suspects drug use? Or sitting in a class room and the professor turns their back for a few seconds as they write on the dry erase board….meanwhile the person next to you is 'vaping' but in actuality are taking a hit of something. What is that something you ask? If it is a drug, there is a good chance it is marijuana.”

This topic bears further investigation to increase awareness. Please visit the Tall Cop Says Stop website for additional information and resources.

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Kaye Frataccia is the program manager for Around the Table. This column solely represents the writer’s opinion.