Organizers hope an event Wednesday night at La Follette High School will raise awareness of rising use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, among youth.

Tobacco Free Columbia Dane County coordinator Ryan Sheahan said the event, from 6 to 7 p.m., can “really educate parents and the community” on the statistics of use and how to identify if their child or one they know has a problem. It’s one of a series of presentations the group is doing throughout the county, many at schools.

“We really want to bring in the schools to partner in this discussion,” Sheahan said. “That’s where the youth are.”

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows 5.3 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019, up from 3.6 million in 2018. The most popular brand among kids is Juul, the study found, and Sheahan said its marketing and flavoring options are seemingly aimed toward that market.

“A lot of the advertising sort of looks like it’s geared toward young adults and youth,” he said.

The 45-minute presentation will include information on brands like Juul, explain what an e-cigarette is and the health effects, and help attendees identify the forms the devices come in. A similar event is planned for Nov. 21 at Memorial High School.

“It’s beneficial on their part to have us, and to kind of be in the school with them, but (also) just to have them sponsor the event so parents know this is a serious issue,” Sheahan said.

Last week, state legislators held a hearing on a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy vaping and e-cigarette products to 21, a policy aimed at curbing use in schools.

As of Nov. 7, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 87 cases of severe lung disease among people who had reported vaping.

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Scott Girard is the local k-12 education reporter at the Cap Times. A Madison native, he joined the paper in 2019 after working for six years for Unified Newspaper Group. Follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.