The Vaping Epidemic

By — Sally Bermudez

Vaping, which was said to have started as a healthy alternative to smoking, has caused many people to end up in hospitals. Recently, there’s been 450 possible cases of people in the hospital tied to vaping, and five deaths. The list of states that have reported these cases are Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and even here in Virginia.

47% of the victims, which are mostly teenagers, stated that they have been smoking THC, which is the chemical that gives marijuana its high. The other 53% said that they weren’t smoking any other chemicals except for nicotine. The doctors that have been treating these patients have said that the illness looks like an inhalation injury due to the chemicals that are found in the juice of the E-cigarette. The symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, vomiting, fevers, and coughing. Some patients have even needed to get supplemental oxygen from a ventilator. 

F.D.A. investigators say that they’re mostly focused on Juul pods that aren’t being sold in stores, but instead on the streets and people who are selling them through social media. These off brand pods contain Vitamin E, which thickens marijuana vape juice. After further investigation, the director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the F.D.A. said this, “If you’re thinking of purchasing one of these products off the street, out of the back of a car, out of a trunk, in an alley, or if you’re going to then go home and make modifications to the product yourself using something that you purchased from some third party or got from a friend, think twice.”

The F.D.A. has recently started targeting the JUUL company. They sent a warning letter claiming JUUL used false advertising to promote their product by saying it’s a healthy alternative to smoking, even though the F.D.A. didn’t give them federal approval to do that. “Regardless of where products like e-cigarettes fall on the continuum of tobacco product risk, the law is clear that, before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful…Juul has ignored the law and, very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation’s youth,” saidDr. Ned Sharpless, acting F.D.A commissioner. 

On September 11th, 2019, the Trump Administration announced that they were going to ban the selling of flavored E-cigarettes. According to the F.D.A., they’re outlining a plan to remove all flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine pods. These include popular flavors like mint and menthol, but exclude tobacco. President Trump knows that hundreds of kids are being affected by this illness and decided to acknowledge it by saying the following, “We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our kids be so affected.” 

LCPS schools has realized the dangers of this epidemic that has been going around and decided to take steps to prevent it from happening to any of their students. They made a page on their website with all the information regarding e-cigarettes that can be found by clicking this link: Tuscarora has taken steps of their own to insure that the number of juuling cases in this school goes down. They enforced rules including no more than three people in the bathroom at a time during lunch, students can only go to the bathroom one at a time with a pass, and attendance must be taken correctly if a student shows up late. Carl Opauski, the SRO at Tuscarora High School, said the following about ways that Tuscarora is trying to prevent the vaping epidemic, “The school is increasing patrols in the restrooms and trying to get more proactive with the kids and inform them of the hazards that are associated with vaping.”