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‘We are addicting a new generation’

Students from the nex+Gen Academy Magnet High School in Albuquerque work with production on the documentary “Vape.” (Courtesy of Chris Schueler)

Production of the documentary “Vape” took more than six months. (Courtesy of Chris Schueler)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

More than 50% of New Mexico high school students have used an electronic vaping product.

This number is alarming to filmmaker Chris Schueler and is the impetus behind his latest documentary, “Vape.”

“Vaping is becoming the big issue in a teen’s life,” Schueler said. “I wanted to put together a documentary that sheds light on the dangers of vaping. It’s more detrimental than being addicted to cigarettes.”

The documentary will get a free public screening at 6 p.m. Friday at the South Broadway Cultural Center, 1025 Broadway SE. The event is also presented by the Albuquerque Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council and there will be information tables available.

Schueler began his research more than two years ago.

He made sure to include information on nicotine addiction, the ingredients in vape liquid and pods, secondhand vapor and its effect on others, as well as how flavorings increase the likelihood of gum and tooth decay.

“Our goal is to open discussion and empower youth with information about e-cigs, so they understand what this epidemic can do to them, health-wise, in years to come,” he said. “The program really explains the parallels between the cigarette craze of 40 or 50 years ago and how this e-cigarette craze is identical in terms of harm to your health. As you look at the early cigarette commercials, and then you see how companies today are marketing their e-cigarette products, we have a real problem.”

Dr. Shaun Singh Sidhu, a child psychologist, said most parents may not even know if their children are vaping.

“Some of the vaping aerosols are odorless, and some smell like sort of benign things, pineapple. Some of the vaping devices don’t even look like cigarettes,” Sidhu said in the documentary.

According to Dr. Dona Upson, professor of medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, “Kids who we would have thought would have been protected from smoking, based on their demographics, their social standing, their academic prowess, those kids are more likely to use e-cigarettes and progress on to combusted cigarettes. I think the real danger of vaping is that we are addicting a new generation of kids to nicotine.”

The project includes the one-hour documentary, shorter videos for use with groups and in classrooms along with a curriculum/viewer guide, as well as social media engagement to encourage discussion about all the forms of vaping products and how they affect long-term health.

“I’ve become this crazy expert on vaping,” Schueler said. “Then you get into the whole thing about THC and other drugs. I’d tell teens to never share a vape at a party because you don’t know what is in it.”

Schueler also got New Mexico teens together for a think tank.

Although more schools are involved, the students featured in the documentary are from Sandia Preparatory School and nex+Gen Academy Magnet High School.

“I really wanted to involve teens, because this is a problem that they are facing,” Schueler said. “We had so much useful information that we had to wade through for the documentary.”

“Vape” will also air at 7 p.m. Saturday on KWBQ; 11 a.m. Sundayon Fox NM; 7 p.m. Aug. 21 on KASY and 3 p.m. Aug. 24 on KRQE. New Mexico PBS will air it in October.

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