BOISE, Idaho — Vape-related illnesses continue to climb across the United States. Idaho public health officials are now confirming six cases of vaping-related lung illnesses in the state.
To help raise awareness of vaping, the United Way of Treasure Valley hosted a vaping expert from Stanford University to educate parents and teens about the dangers of vaping; dangers Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher says impact every teen, as statistics for vaping among underage students continue to climb.
“National data are saying about 25 percent of youth, middle and high school, have used a e-cigarette; when I go talk to schools they’re saying ‘no, it’s more like 50 percent’,” said Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University and Founder of the Tobacco Prevention Toolkit.
So here’s a question for you, how are these underage middle and high school students getting ahold of the small e-cigarettes that often look like a USB drive? From the mouth of a current high school student who sees the dangers of vaping every day:
“I have friends who will go to work, and they’ll take their tips or their wages or whatever, and then they’ll get in the car with an 18-year-old friend, give them the money, tell them what they want, and then that friend will bring back whatever they want from the vape shop,” said Taylor Jepson, a junior in high school and a Youth Advocate for the American Heart Association.
That’s something that worries Taylor, a high school junior, and something that should worry parents and educators; especially because statistics show you are more likely to become addicted to these products if you start vaping during young adulthood.
“There are definitely different things that my administration is trying to do, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that they’re succeeding, because they don’t know how to interact with this new problem,” said Jepson.
And the national data backs that up. Recent recommendations from the CDC warn against using black market vaping products, but Dr. Halpern-Felsher says, better safe than sorry.
“Really, the only common denominator that we know is that these are all vaping products. We don’t know if it’s a JUUL, if it’s another e-cigarette. We don’t know if it’s e-juice or nicotine, we don’t know if it’s THC,” said Dr. Halpern-Felsher.
Something Dr. Halpern-Felsher and Taylor are advocating for in the upcoming legislative sessions is raising the age for smoking e-cigarettes to 21.
Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher has a free tool kit she created with educational information related to vaping and e-cigarettes and that is available for anyone to access by clicking here.