Vaping: A Nationwide Epidemic

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Kathryn Ballode

Sign from THS Women's Bathroom

Johnny Wilcox, Staff Writer

TELLURIDE — This past year, the media has been bursting with articles and reports on the newest addiction sweeping the public: vaping.

According to the Surgeon General’s Advisory on E-cigarette Use Among Youth, 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students were using e-cigarettes in 2018. 

On Dec. 18, 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, declared youth use of e-cigarettes an epidemic.  

“I, Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, VADM Jerome Adams, am emphasizing the importance of protecting our children from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated health risks by immediately addressing the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.” Adams wrote in a press release.

There are multiple different substances that can be vaporized, requiring very different chemicals and methods for each different substance. The two most popular substances that are vaporized are nicotine; typically in the form of an e-cigarette, and marijuana; typically in the form of “dab pen cartridges.”

E-cigarettes, or other nicotine vaporizers, have had a boom in the general public, and are marketed as an alternative for chronic smokers attempting to quit. The media has focused primarily on how these ‘smoking alternatives’ have infiltrated youth, with teen-vaping rates skyrocketing in the past couple of years.

The problem has propagated into a much larger legal battle happening in the United States over the past two years with industry giants such as Juul and Vuse. 

On Oct. 7, The New York Times published an article citing three different school districts that filed suit against Juul, “accusing it of endangering students and forcing educators to divert time and money to fight an epidemic of nicotine addiction.”

Cannabis vaporizers, on the other hand, have fallen out of  the public eye.

A basic search of the web produces hundreds of hospitalization reports by both adults and teens over the course of the past year who have been hospitalized due to certain lung problems. And, multiple reports, including one cited by the Washington Post on Sept. 6, describe a possible connection for the recent hospitalizations. 

The active ingredient vitamin E acetate used inside of the THC oil cartridges has been linked in the reported cases, causing doctors and scientists to believe that this may be the cause.

According to a Washington Post article published on Sept. 6, “investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the oil in cannabis products in samples collected from patients who fell ill across the United States. FDA officials shared that information with state health officials during a telephone briefing this week, according to several officials who took part in the call.”

As of Oct. 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists 26 deaths among patients who reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products. 

Schools across the country are doing their part in this battle against addiction with both education and disciplinary actions.

Telluride High School has been taking a stand against vaping for the better part of two years and with these new media reports, the urgency is at an all-time high. For the past two years, THS counselor, Alex Jones, has been taking action against the problem.

Jones is a trained cessation specialist, meaning he can run groups that will quit, and quit successfully with proven research methods. He also says he’s been campaigning around the school with multiple anti-vaping signs and posters in an attempt to keep people up-to-date with information.

One message he is currently promoting is “vaping is a dangerous act” which he wants all THS students to realize. He also says he feels it is important to note that scientifically, we do not know a lot about these substances and their long term effects on our health.

The increased publicity around the dangers of vaping has not gone unnoticed, as Telluride High School Senior, Toe Carmola, tells THS today, “Yes, I think since the new reports have come out in the news about hospitalizations, people are beginning to take the action much more seriously.”

Carmola’s response is a beacon of hope for a brighter future for Telluride High School.

As the media continues to release more information on the health and mental effects of vaping, THS Today will make sure to let the student body know about it.