WILLIAMSON CO., Tenn. (WKRN) — E-cigarette use has risen steadily among youth in Tennessee with an increase of 92% from 2017 to 2019, according to the latest data from the state’s health department.

An anti-drug coalition in Williamson County has insight into how teens are getting their hands on these products. It’s why they’re encouraging parents to pay close attention to social media.

As the program coordinator for the Williamson County Anti-Drug Coalition, Lyndsey Wilhelm talks with youth about substance use.

“Who knows what vaping is?” She asked, and all their hands shot up.

She said what they know is usually incorrect.

Wilhelm spends most of her day answering questions and educating students about the health risks associated with the product.

“That’s why I do what I do, because we get reports that kids are saying, ‘my parents, aren’t talking to me,’” she said.

Through these conversations, Wilhelm has learned there are several ways kids get their hands on vaping devices.

Sometimes stores sell them to underage kids. Sometimes transactions can happen on legal online sites, where checking a box that you are 21 is the only requirement. But, the more common way happens on social media.

“Snapchat, you know, has the feature where conversations go away,” she continued, “You don’t know who all’s in this group chat, you know, you’re arranging to meet people to buy these products.”

Wilhelm said kids are using the social media site to find dealers and arrange to meet in person.

“I have to share it. So, parents can be aware of this.” Wilhelm said, “This is a route that kids are going to get these devices.”

Wilhelm said students are bombarded by marketing techniques.

“You see all these influencers out there ‘Hey, here’s my code for a discount for you know, your vape products.’ It’s like, please don’t do that. Don’t do that! These kids are watching you!” She exclaimed. “They’re soaking it up like a sponge.”

She advised parents to not only monitor social media but also try to delay access, “Because I feel like it plays a huge, huge role.”

She added talk to your kids. If you are not sure how to approach the topic, then turn to a state-funded group to help you.

“All the coalitions, you know, they tailor their information to their area just like we do. So, we can tell you what we are seeing, what’s being reported, and get you connected with resources.”

Resources are free for the community. Find an anti-drug coalition in your area by clicking on this link.

Help your teen quit by contacting the Tennessee Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or text “quit” to (615) 795-0600 or visit this link right now.