With the start of another school year, parents will likely be hearing from school officials about the dangers of vaping and getting a refresher on what vaping devices look like.
This year, that message is particularly critical. While some adults might view vaping as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, recent developments have shown that to be misinformation.
The Center for Disease Control has launched an investigation into a mysterious lung disease attributed to vaping that has affected more than 200 people this summer. In most cases, these are otherwise healthy individuals.
Last month, Illinois officials reported the first death thought to be related to vaping. The investigation is ongoing. A second death was reported this week in Oregon. Investigators said the person had apparently become sick after vaping THC purchased from a recreational marijuana shop.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 11 confirmed and seven suspected cases of severe pulmonary disease among adolescents who reported vaping.
Here in Iowa, the Department of Public Health has changed its protocol and begun weekly updates related to vaping and lung disease following a rapid increase in such cases.
Case counts will be updated weekly on Fridays and information about this emerging health issue is available at https://tinyurl.com/y54e3d6o. The update from Aug. 30 notes: 7 cases (young to middle-age adults); 5 of 7 cases reported vaping THC.
In addition to parents, government officials must heed concern for this public health crisis.
When the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services declared youth vaping in the state a public health emergency, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took bold action. On Wednesday, Michigan became the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes.
That news came on the heels of San Francisco becoming the first major city to ban the sale and distribution of all e-cigarettes, beginning next year.
Don’t think this is a big-city problem that isn’t happening here.
On Wednesday, Darlington (Wis.) Police posted on social media a warning about the dangers, noting “We are aware some people in the area are vaping marijuana. This is illegal and dangerous. The marijuana being smoked in e-cigarettes is many times more potent than the marijuana smoked decades ago.”
That’s a key element, and one parents need to be aware of. The combination of vaping THC is particularly dangerous.
As the dangers of vaping escalate and become more apparent, it will take school officials, politicians and citizens working together to diffuse a mounting public health crisis impacting teens and young adults.