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E-cigarešu lietošana skolā pārvēršas par ikdienu

Schools battle against spread of e-cigarettes

In Vidzeme region's schools, as in other parts of Latvia, the fight against the use of e-cigarettes is now almost a daily occurrence, reports LTV. 

Students do not hide that they and their friends use them. Meanwhile, school management admits that educational institutions cannot cope with this problem by themselves and doctors remind people that smoking e-cigarettes can cause very serious diseases. 

Electronic cigarettes are very easily available to students, both on the Internet and in stores.

"The majority of those who get them are minors. They get them in such a way that they are bought by senior students or friends of senior students," said Laimis, a 3rd-year student at the Valmiera Technical School.

"I myself also know stores where they sell to minors, but we cannot influence anything there," said Samanta, a 2nd-year student at the Valmiera Technical School.

"Yes, a lot of people use them, almost every person I know uses them. In principle, most of them are adults, but there are a large number of minors," Sandis, another student of the Valmiera Technical School, said.

School management does not hide that the problem is longstanding and the fight against smoking inside and outside the educational institution is never-ending.

"This problem has come to the fore in recent years, when young people have started smoking in the school facilities as well," stated Vita Zeibote, deputy director of the Valmiera Technical School.

"It must be said that the youngest children come into contact with e-cigarettes where there are some extracurricular activities or free time, where older young people are. They see and look, and they are interested in those e-cigarettes, [which seem] convenient, easy to use. But, fortunately, we have not found it at school," said Mārtiņš Vētra, principal of Valmiera Primary School.

In society, especially among children and young people, there is a myth that e-cigarettes are not as harmful as regular cigarettes. However, doctors emphasize that e-cigarettes are also harmful.

"E-cigarettes contain addictive substances. In particular, it is nicotine, which is one of the strongest addictive substances. Some experts rank it as the third most addictive substance," said psychiatrist Andis Krūmiņš.

Even the doctor admits that it is currently an epidemic among young people and it can cause very serious lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases and also damage teeth.

Last year, the police conducted 29 inspections with trained dogs in schools in Vidzeme, and this year there were already two such inspections. The places where cigarettes or other unauthorized places are found are very different. 

"The hiding places are in the toilet, in the ceiling, hiding in other people's belongings, in flower pots, you can see all this on TV in any movie," said Liene Kaužena, chief inspector of the Prevention Group of the State Police.

The police have observed that every year younger and younger students are involved in the use of addictive substances. There have been cases of children as young as nine years old smoking e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, many parents are not aware that their child smokes. But there are also known cases where parents buy and give e-cigarettes to their offspring.

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