SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A box trailer turned into a teen bedroom, is used to show parents and caregivers the creative ways vapes might be “hidden in plain sight” to bring awareness to the trend.
A local parent searching through the bedroom, was surprised by all of the mundane objects that weren’t what they seemed, “is this a real hairbrush?” a parent asked.
When the end was popped off that hairbrush, a vape was stowed away inside. Which led to the question: Who needs to hide a vape?
Rachel Reed, Chief Program Officer for Mental Health America of West Central Indiana said, “It’s targeted toward kids. It’s not for adults. It’s pretty colors, pretty flavors, and cartoons. It is targeted at kids,” Reed said.
“Wow. It looks like a toy,” a local parent said as she held a red and white striped object that looked like a pen but had a secret compartment on the end to store Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) wax. The wax is a highly concentrated form of THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis.
Local officials said age restrictions alone are not enough.
“Vaping is an epidemic,” Reed said. “Previously, our first age of use was around 13 with, like cigarettes. So, vaping has made it so kids are using earlier, like 11.5 years. So, we need to know what to look for.”
Reed said the ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ trailer was created to do just that. The trailer travels around giving adults the opportunity to search and find what may be hidden in a teen bedroom.
“The hope is, you’ll talk to your kids about those items or general prevention.”
According to a Press Release from Tobacco Free Vigo, “E-cigarettes, often called ‘vapes,’ are electronic devices designed to deliver vaporized liquids into the lungs. The main ingredient in vapes is propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or glycerol, and they often contain nicotine, flavors, and other chemicals. Vapes may contain harmful chemicals that aren’t listed on the pack.”
The biggest misunderstanding about vapes is that they are harmless.
Matt Price, Police Chief at Northeast School Corporation said a vape isn’t always what we expect, “You have not just vapes with nicotine but you have THC vapes. There are vapes that have the ability to put products in them. So, whether it be other nicotine products or THC products, or even something more dangerous than that. So, we never know exactly what’s in those.”
Most importantly, Price and Reed both say parents and caregivers need to be active in their kids’ lives.
“And to go in there and have those hard conversations and those difficult talks with them when they do see these things,” Price said.
“Talk to your kids,” Reed said. “Use age-appropriate learning materials but have those conversations. Start early, because if you don’t, someone else will.”
The ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ trailer was stocked with about 100 hidden items. Those items were purchased mainly from local gas stations and vape shops. Just a few items were ordered from Amazon. Many, without age restrictions but targeted and marketed to our youth.
To tour the trailer yourself, it will be at the Water Tower Estates in Terre Haute on Tuesday, August 22 from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. for Tobacco Free Vigo’s Educational event focused on vaping.