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Archive for the ‘Vaping’ Category.

PREVIEW: Vaping in central Wisconsin

MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) — Along with high-profile deaths linked to vaping, health officials say vaping-related illnesses continue to rise across the country and in Wisconsin.

Federal and local agencies are still hesitant to pinpoint what’s making people sick.

Since vaping deaths made headlines, the investigation has caused confusion, disrupted an industry and led some to ignore calls to stop vaping altogether — for better or for worse.

“They can contain all sorts of chemicals that are untested and unregulated, and we don’t know what the health effects could be. That’s really what we want to get across … we don’t know what they’re inhaling,” said Dr. Jon Meiman, chief medical officer for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Some of those cases are linked to Marathon County.

News 9’s Chase McNamara digs deeper into an issue in our own backyard.

Catch the special report you’ll only see on News 9 Thursday at 10:00 p.m.


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Montgomery Co. could ban vape shops from selling e-cigarettes near schools

Vaping has become a popular option for people trying to quit cigarettes, but there’s a push in Montgomery County to limit how much access kids have.

Vaping has become a popular option for people trying to quit cigarettes, but there’s a push in Montgomery County, Maryland, to limit how much access kids have to e-cigarettes.

The Montgomery County Council is considering a package of regulations that include three bills that would stop manufacturers of e-cigarette products from selling to retail stores within a half-mile of middle and high schools, keep flavored products out of stores within a mile of elementary, middle and high schools, and limit the sale of e-cigarettes and tobacco products to anyone under 21.

If passed, vape shops within the prohibited zone would also be required to shutdown within 24 months if not in compliance with legislation.

During Tuesday night’s public hearing, 12-year-old Madeleine Wenk expressed her support for the legislation.

“Our schools and neighborhoods will be healthier and safer,” she said. “With no vape stores, fewer kids would have access.”

Jennifer Danish, a board member with the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington, voiced her support for the bills and encouraged council members to take it a step further.

The current legislation defines a vape shop as an establishment that devotes 51% of its floor area to the sale and display of e-cigarettes or allows vaping on-site. Danish said any retailer that sells or distributes the devices should be included.

“This would preclude the corner market and other retailers from selling e-cigarettes,” she said. “We are seeing an alarming rise in e-cigarette use by teens and preteens.”

But James Collins, a resident who uses e-cigarettes, disagreed with the move, saying the bills wouldn’t stop teens from vaping since most teens are not allowed in vape stores. He also stressed the potential impact on small business owners.

“The bills would potentially close down 19 small businesses, result in the unemployment of over 100 people, discourage people from quitting smoking and cause others to go back to smoking tobacco cigarettes,” he added.

The package has received unanimous support from the council and will now go before the Health and Human Services committee for consideration.

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The dangers of vaping and how to get help

(Mass Appeal) – An estimated 1 in 5 high school students currently use e-cigarettes. The misconception that vape pens are harmless is contributing to the epidemic. Sara Moriarty joins us to dispel some of the rumors around vaping and to tell us how to get help.

Gándara Center is the host agency for the Hampden County Tobacco Free Community Partnership (TFCP), which has spearheaded an effort to increase public knowledge of the dangers of vaping and the fact that candy and fruit-flavored vaping products are designed to lure middle school and high school students.

The campaign found at provides facts for young people comparing vapes and cigarettes: both put nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals in their body and both are highly addictive and dangerous for young people. Printed materials for youth, including a handout, poster and mirror clings, are available to order or download at along with useful information for adults.

The vaping epidemic has led parents, schools and youth-serving organizations to struggle with how to help youth who are addicted to nicotine and want to quit. Now, two new programs are available to help Massachusetts youth become nicotine- and tobacco-free.

This is Quitting powered by truth® is a texting program for young people who want to quit vaping. It is a free, confidential 30-day program during which youth receive texts with information, tips, and support. They receive daily text messages to help them prepare to quit and supportive texts from young people who have been through the program. They can also, text “CRAVE,” “SLIP,” or “STRESS” at any time for support, or “MASSINFO” for information specific to Massachusetts. Youth can sign up even if they aren’t ready to quit – the texts they receive will give them things to think about when making that decision.

To enroll in the program, youth text “VapeFreeMass” to 88709. Youth can also connect with their school nurse, counselor, or coach to help get them started.

The program also serves as a resource for parents/guardians looking to help their children who vape.
Parents and other adults can also text “QUIT” to 202-899-7550 to sign up to receive text messages designed specifically for parents of vapers.

Note: This is Quitting powered by truth® is a national program. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Tobacco Treatment Research & Training, has partnered with truth® to offer messaging and information specific to Massachusetts youth.

My Life, My QuitTM is a specially designed program to help young people quit vaping or other tobacco products. My Life, My QuitTM provides five free and confidential coaching sessions by phone, live texting, or chat with specially-trained youth coach specialists. Youth can text “Start My Quit” to 855-891-9989 or call toll-free 1-855-891-9989 for real-time coaching. They can also visit to sign up online, chat with a live coach, get information about vaping and tobacco, and find activities to help them quit. The program can send out materials and a certificate at the end of the program.

My Life, My QuitTM is a program of National Jewish Health, the vendor for the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline. The My Life, My QuitTM program combines best practices for youth tobacco cessation adapted to include vaping and new ways to reach a coach using live text messaging or online chat. Specially trained youth coach specialists emphasize that the decision to stop is personal, and provide information to help cope with stress, navigate social situations and support developing a tobacco-free identity.

Concerned adults can learn much more about vaping at You can see what vaping products look like and get answers to frequently asked questions. A toolkit of resources for schools and community-based organizations is available there as well.

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Wisconsin bill seeks to stop under 21s from vaping, smoking

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin lawmakers are moving ahead with a bipartisan proposal to limit the sale of vaping and other tobacco products to people over age 21, holding a public hearing Wednesday on a measure designed to address what advocates called a public health crisis facing young people.

Consideration of the bill comes amid a vaping illness outbreak in Wisconsin and nationwide that has sickened nearly 1,900 people and killed 37 since March, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A majority of those sickened said they vaped products containing THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana.

Proponents for setting the minimum age for purchasing vaping products in Wisconsin at 21 — who also support raising the age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21 — said it would help curb use among young people. Electronic cigarette use by high school students has skyrocketed despite concerns about damage the chemicals in the devices cause to the heart and lungs.

“We have a crisis of youth tobacco use both in Wisconsin and nationwide,” said Dr. Michael Fiore, head of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Prevention. He was one of many doctors and other medical professionals who testified in support of the measure.

E-cigarette use increased by 154% between 2014 and 2018, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. As of last year, one out of every five students used them, the department said.

Research shows that 95% of people become addicted by age 21, so anything that can be done to reduce use among young people will save lives, Fiore said. Based on data from other states with a 21-year-old age limit, use would reduce in Wisconsin by about 12%, he said.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have already passed similar bills raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco, nicotine and vaping products to 21.

Republican Rep. John Nygren, a member of the committee that considered the bill, questioned whether it was appropriate to set the minimum age as high as 21 given that people can join the military and vote at age 18.

Fiore said that while setting the age at 21 may not be perfect, it “will save lives in Wisconsin and help protect kids.”

Gregg Wieczorek, the principal of Arrowhead Union High School in Hartland, testified that he thought tobacco use among young people was under control before vaping became popular in recent years. It’s so pervasive, Wieczorek said, that he’s seen student athletes lose eligibility to play their sport because they’ve been caught vaping so often.

“Feeding their addiction for nicotine was more important than the passion for their sport,” he said.

The proposal is supported by public health and school groups including the American Heart Association, the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, the Wisconsin Medical Society and the Wisconsin Public Health Association.

The Cigar Association of America and tobacco manufacturer Swisher International registered in opposition. E-cigarette manufacturing giant Juul Labs supports raising the purchasing age for all tobacco products, including vaping products, to 21.

The bill would have to pass the state Senate and Assembly and be signed by Gov. Tony Evers before becoming law. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said last month that he wouldn’t rule out the proposal, but the soonest the Senate could take it up is January. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Evers did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

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3rd Massachusetts resident dies from vaping

A third Massachusetts resident has died from vaping-related lung injury, state health officials reported Wednesday.

The patient was a man in his 50s from Worcester County who reported vaping both nicotine and THC products.

“My condolences go out to the family of this patient who has died from a vaping-associated lung injury,’’ said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. “This disease is serious and potentially fatal and we are continuing to investigate the cause.”

The patient is among more than 200 suspected vaping-associated lung injury patients that have been reported to the Department of Public Health since September when Massachusetts clinicians were mandated to report any unexplained lung injury in a patient with a history of vaping to the department.

Last month, DPH reported the state’s first two deaths from a vaping-associated lung injury, a  woman in her 40s from Middlesex County and a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County, both of whom vaped nicotine.

Across the country, 1,888 cases of vaping-related injury have been reported to the CDC since Oct. 29.

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Vaping Epidemic: What Parents Need to Know

Piper Johnson nearly died.

The cause: Vaping.

The oldest of seven kids, the New Lenox teen became Colorado’s first case of severe respiratory illness attributed to vaping. She was on her way from Illinois to the Centennial State with her parents, excited to start her freshman year in college, when they were forced to visit an urgent care because Piper couldn’t take a deep breath.

One day’s delay could have meant an entirely different outcome, Piper’s mom Ruby Johnson said doctors told her.

So, Piper and her family are using all of their breath these days to keep vaping products out of kids’ hands. Ruby Johnson traveled to Washington, D.C., several times to meet with legislators, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and to testify at a congressional hearing on the dangers and to share her story.

“As parents we’re fighting this battle that almost feels like sometimes, how do you even fight it?” Johnson says. “…I think this is a problem that is bigger than just parents or just teenagers. It’s got to be everybody. It’s got to be our legislators, our educators, parents, our doctors. If we all work together and educate and regulate, we can start to reverse this problem.”

Illinois recorded the first death from vaping in August and its second in October. Since then, the numbers have climbed around the country. Illinois has since recorded more than 150 cases of vaping-related lung disease, the youngest of whom is 13. Nationwide, the number has exceeded 1,600, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Durbin has called on the U.S. Surgeon General to take immediate action on what he’s calling the youth e-cigarette epidemic by launching a national strategy to address “this public health crisis.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September announced it would ban all non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors and states, such as Michigan, are taking their own steps to ban the flavors that experts say make vaping particularly enticing to kids. Johnson is pushing for mint and menthol flavors to be added to the banned list.

The FDA reports that between 2017 and 2018, vaping by high school students increased 78 percent and by middle schoolers increased 48 percent. The CDC recently released data showing five million children vape. Closer to home, the latest Illinois Youth Survey found that nearly 30 percent of Illinois 12th graders reported using a tobacco or vaping product.

Lured by the “cool factor” on social media, experts worry that kids don’t realize or care about the dangers of e-cigarette use, which can be even more addictive than tobacco cigarettes.

“There are at least 40 different chemicals ingested through vaping, and at least half of them are known to be harmful,” says Dr. Kevin Germino, pediatrician at DuPage Medical Group.

Piper’s example 

Johnson found a “little pouch” in Piper’s room when she was a sophomore.

“I’m like any parent, I don’t smoke, I’ve never vaped. You’re not even 100 percent what you are looking at,” she says.

And just like she is now hearing from so many parents reaching out to her who heard the same phrase, Piper claimed it wasn’t hers; ‘I’m holding it for a friend.’

“That time we believed her,” Johnson says.

By the end of her junior year, though, Johnson found another device and Piper fessed up. They grounded her, threw everything away and made her keep her bedroom door open. The Johnsons thought that would be the end.

But it had become a habit and Piper admitted she was using two to three pods a week (in some products, each pod is equivalent to a pack or a pack and a half of cigarettes.)

She told her mom she quit about a week before they left for college because it hurt too much to take a deep breath. But it was already too late.

She wound up in the hospital, as her parents watched liter after liter of oxygen pump into her lungs and waited for steroids to work their magic. All the while, Piper was missing out on what was supposed to be a fun start of her college life.

She told her mom that if God let her live, he must have big plans for her. “I have to make an example of myself,” Piper told her mom.

It was a scary wake-up call for the family, who are all on a crusade against vaping.

Johnson found out one of her other children tried vaping, but got sick and didn’t do it again. Still, he told her ‘everybody does it.’

“I always take it with a grain of salt when my kids tell me ‘everybody’s doing this’, but I feel that’s really close to the truth. It’s so rampant right now,” Johnson says.

She’s hearing more from teachers and other parents that vaping is happening as early as fifth grade. Her kids show her social media stories of classmates vaping in class as the teacher teaches.

For her part, Piper is settling into college life, though still finds herself fighting to breathe when she exerts herself.

Will her lungs ever fully recover?

Right now, Johnson says, that’s the unknown.

3 things parents need to know about vaping

1. Hiding in plain sight

If your teen or tween isn’t vaping, they know someone who is and they’ve been tempted.

It’s happening in school bathrooms, playgrounds and even right in the classroom when the teacher’s back is turned. And chances are, kids are hiding the evidence in plain sight.

Vaping is easy to conceal. Intentionally so, New Lenox mom Ruby Johnson believes.

“It blows my mind that we didn’t know it,” she says about her daughter’s vaping. “I think the fact the things are so sleek and so sneaky, once they get the kids hooked, they are easily able to hide it from the adults in their life.”

Johnson urges other parents to learn all they can about e-cigarettes and vaping.

Even the kids you would never suspect would vape, might be, she says.

“From my experience, I would say don’t be surprised if your kid is trying it. It is incredibly pervasive. There is something about it that doesn’t feel as bad as smoking cigarettes, almost like it is the video game version of smoking,” says Carrie, an Oak Park mom who was surprised when she found an unfamiliar “charger” in her son’s room.

“I was really surprised as he had previously seemed pretty against vaping and had even written a research paper outlining the dangers of it.”

2. Safer than cigarettes myth

Many kids believe that vaping is safer than smoking. Yet, e-cigarettes put nicotine into the bloodstream 2.7 times faster than a cigarette.

“People who maybe normally wouldn’t have tried smoking are now vaping. Essentially, vaping has created a whole population of people who are going to be addicted to nicotine,” says Dr. Kevin Germino, pediatrician at DuPage Medical Group.

Considering e-cigarettes are only a decade old, research on long-term effects is limited.

“The more research we see on vaping shows that vaping is certainly harmful, and possibly as harmful as smoking tobacco cigarettes,” says Karen Wolownik-Albert, executive director of Gateway Foundation Lake County.

Plus, she says, using nicotine frequently at high levels, as seen in e-cigarettes, can be as addictive as cocaine and heroin. Germino says it can also make teens more prone to mood disorders and attention issues.

Wolownick-Albert also points out that when teens share vaping devices, they are also sharing germs that could cause bacterial or viral infections.

3. Talk about it

Parents should be able to recognize the various types of vaping devices and how the “juice” is packaged and sold, Wolownick-Albert says. Some even contain cannabis and THC.

“This is dangerous enough that we need to be snoopy parents,” Johnson says. “I wish I would have dug through more, but if you don’t know what you are looking for, you are not going to know when you find it.”

Germino says it is as important to talk with your kids about vaping just as you would about smoking cigarettes.

Now is the time to demand change, Johnson says.

“As parents, we have a voice to use, to say we are demanding better for our kids.”

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This article originally published in November 2019 issue. Read the rest of the issue.  

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Proposed Vape Shop Ban ‘Demonizes’ Local Businesses, Owners Say

Small businesses aim to reduce cigarette use, according to opponents

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Montgomery County residents testify about proposed legislation to ban the sale of vape products within a half-mile of schools.

Caitlynn Peetz

County vape shop owners clashed with the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday night, saying proposed legislation to ban their businesses near schools “demonizes” entrepreneurs whose aim is to “save lives.”

In September, the County Council proposed legislation that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes, also called “vapes,” within a half-mile of middle and high schools, and prohibit the sale of flavored vaping products.

The legislation, council members have said, aims to prevent youth from using e-cigarettes as national reports of vaping-related lung illnesses climb.

A handful of vape shop owners, however, said the council isn’t focusing on the right businesses.

The problem, they said, is larger retailers, like convenience stores and gas stations.

“We don’t feel the distance (from schools) and flavor has anything to do with the problem,” said Rodrigo Santos, co-owner of Bethesda Vapor Company and Downtown Vapor Company in Silver Spring. “We’re real people. We were raised in your county, we went to schools in your county, we work in your county and pay taxes in your county. … We’re willing to help, educate and fight this fight with you.”

Last school year, five Montgomery County students lost consciousness and required a drug antidote after vaping during school.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports an “alarming increase” in vaping among high school students from 2017 to 2018. More than 3 million youths were using e-cigarettes in 2018 – a 78 percent increase from the prior year.

Adults use vaping products to wean themselves off cigarette use, according to Jesse Flores, another representative of Bethesda Vapor and Downtown Vapor.

Vape shops sell a specific device that allows users to control how much nicotine is released. Devices sold at other stores, like gas stations, come loaded with as much nicotine as several packs of cigarettes. Products sold on the “black market” are sometimes laced with drugs, Flores said.

Flavors, often fruity, help cigarette users “remove the reminders of nicotine flavors,” and more effectively stop smoking, Flores said.

“We feel further punishing reputable businesses like ours will only lead to a rise in those black market sales and … poor decisions and unfavorable results,” he said.

There are 22 vape shops in Montgomery County and 19 fall within the boundary that would restrict the sale of their products.

Eric Fristchler, owner of Vapor Worldwide in Gaithersburg, said the council’s legislation jeopardizes the health of thousands of Montgomery County residents who quit smoking as a result of his business.

He said vape shops are being “demonized” for helping people, despite turning away children who come to their stores to buy nicotine products.

“I’ve been serving the community for six years, built a business on saving lives and eliminating big tobacco,” Fristchler said. “… Come out to our shop, meet your constituents — the adult vapers who are saving their lives from the grips of tobacco. That is what we do.”

John O’Hara, president of the Maryland Group Against Smokers’ Pollution disagreed, and said vaping companies’ marketing strategies mimic those of large tobacco companies. Vaping companies say their products are safe and market directly to youth, he said.

“Many adults and young people are dying from vaping,” O’Hara said. “… The physical health of your constituents is far more important than the financial health of the tobacco and vaping industry.”

Adam Zimmerman, a Rockville resident, urged the County Council to strengthen the proposed legislation to ban vape shops within 1 mile of all county schools.

County Executive Marc Elrich in September said he, too, would support the legislation if it were expanded to include a 1-mile radius. At a press conference, Elrich said the county government must weigh public health above the welfare of some businesses.

“If it’s something that only makes a business successful at the cost of public health, it is not the kind of thing people should be in business doing,” Elrich said.

In recent months, e-cigarette use and vaping have gotten national attention as dozens of people nationally have fallen ill with lung conditions health officials believe are linked to vaping.

Montgomery County resident Luel Hayes told the council on Tuesday he became ill from inhaling second-hand vape smoke in a local Starbucks in 2014.

Hayes spent several days in the hospital, he said, and was told oils in vaping devices “sit on your lungs and start to grow bacteria, then infiltrate the rest of your body.”

“Why is it people wait until people die to do something?” Hayes asked. “People have died.”

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at

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Hillsborough County considers tougher vaping laws

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Lawmakers in Hillsborough County could vote to crack down on the teen vaping epidemic.

On Wednesday, commissioners are expected to vote on a measure that would ban Hillsborough County businesses from selling vape devices or products to anyone younger than 21.

It would ban anyone under 21 from using or possessing vape devices or products.

The ordinance would also ban people from vaping indoors at work, anywhere else where smoking is not allowed, as well as playgrounds, and any public places where there are children, even if it’s outdoors.

Commissioners will also consider a plan on how to enforce the ordinance, with penalties ranging from $25 to $100 depending on the violation. The penalties would go up for the fourth offense.

This comes as state lawmakers make a similar push to raise the age you can buy or possess vaping products in Florida.

Other counties are waiting for the state to pass laws first, but Hillsborough joins a handful of counties and cities looking at acting now.

“All local governments in Florida are preempted from doing anything regarding tobacco products, but they left a small opening for e-cigarettes,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman.


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San Diego superintendent wants to join L.A. Unified’s vaping lawsuit

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten said she will ask the school board to join Los Angeles Unified’s class action lawsuit against one of the country’s leading e-cigarette companies, as vaping-related illnesses and deaths prompt school districts to protest marketing they say targets school-age students.

L.A. Unified announced its lawsuit against the company, Juul, last month. The lawsuit seeks compensation for funds that L.A. Unified says it lost due to vaping-related absences, as well as funds the district has spent on vaping education and prevention campaigns, among other things.

There are more than 1,800 cases of serious lung disease and 38 deaths linked to vaping nationwide, the New York Times reported.

Juul, which faces lawsuits from around the country, has said its products are intended for adults who want to switch from combustible cigarettes, not children.

In the past two months, the company announced it replaced its CEO and it has suspended product advertising in the U.S. and sales of non-tobacco, non-menthol-based flavors, such as mango and cucumber, which critics said appealed to minors.

San Diego district officials say it’s vital for schools to educate students about the harms of vaping and to target the reasons why students vape, while avoiding punishing students for vaping.

“We’re attacking this from all fronts,” Marten said at a roundtable event for the news media on Monday.

About 28 percent of San Diego County’s 11th graders and 7 percent of its seventh graders have used electronic cigarettes or another vaping device, according to a state-administered survey for the 2017-2018 school year.

In San Diego Unified alone, about 4 percent of seventh graders and 7 percent of 11th graders surveyed used vaping devices in the 30 days prior to being surveyed.

Rachel Crowley, an outreach coordinator for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said there has been a recent uptick in the number of requests for her agency to do trainings on vaping.

Crowley said students have told her they vape because of peer pressure and stress from school and home life. Those pressures, combined with how cheap vaping products are, are why vaping is so widespread, Crowley said.

In her presentations, Crowley said she doesn’t just tell students about the harmful health effects of vaping, which can include lung-related illnesses and inflammation.

She also stresses how vaping companies have specifically targeted young people in their marketing, presumably to get young people hooked on their products early.

Crowley has found that students hate to learn that they have been taken advantage of by somebody. That gets to them more than just telling them not to do drugs because drugs are bad.

“Life is hard enough as it is. Don’t be giving your money away to these companies for the rest of your life because you get addicted to their products early,” Crowley said.

Scripps Ranch High’s principal says the school has found a way to reduce vaping without penalizing students for vaping.

Nicole DeWitt, said the school’s number one reason for suspensions used to be vaping. Now, the school routes students found vaping to a support group instead of suspending them.

They go through a four-hour group session provided by the student mental health organization Mending Matters. Students talk about why they vaped, learn about harmful effects of vaping and set goals to quit vaping.

Scripps Ranch High students also report vaping through an online bullying form provided by the district, DeWitt said.

Some students designed public service announcement posters to post around the school.

Drug-sniffing dogs also visit the school every month. They used to find vaping products ⁠— and only vaping products ⁠— on campus each time, DeWitt said.

This month for the first time, the dogs found no vaping products on campus, she said.

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Doctors testify against vaping in legislative hearing | Local News

State Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, opened her committee meeting Tuesday morning with the assurance that it would not be the last one on the subject — the sheer speed at which people filled speaking roles on the topic of vaping and public health led her to tentatively schedule at least one more hearing before the beginning of the 2020 legislative session.

“I knew that this problem with Juuls was one of great interest — however, on short notice, I did not realize I would be able to get so many people willing to leave their medical practices and come and talk,” said Cooper, chairwoman of the House Health & Human Services Committee.

The next meeting is more or less reserved for people against changing vaping laws, as Tuesday doctors representing a number of statewide medical associations testified for stricter controls on vaping, especially as it pertains to minors and appealing to minors, like the myriad flavors.

State Rep. Don Hogan, R-St. Simons Island, asked Dr. Justine Henao how recreational marijuana fit into the issue, since many vaping injuries result from people using THC pods.

Henao, representing the Medical Association of Atlanta and the Medical Association of Georgia, said she knows that nicotine affects dopamine release, and “dopamine release is a pleasure neurotransmitter. So, nicotine primes your brain for drug-reinforced behavior, so nicotine is a gateway drug. The younger you are exposed to nicotine, those pathways are turned on by the nicotine and you’re going to need something in order to secrete that dopamine.

“So, when you start using nicotine to get that dopamine high, you’re going to need more and more nicotine, and at some point you’re going to want to require something more than nicotine,” she said, which she agreed with Hogan was where recreational marijuana comes in.

The Centers for Disease Control finds that one in 10 marijuana users become addicted to marijuana. In comparison, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry in September 2017 — and reported on in The Washington Post — found one out of eight American adults overall are alcoholics.

Dr. Tracey Henry, representing the Georgia chapter of the American College of Physicians, said she and other medical professionals have been hearing from young people who vape and are ignorant of the health risks.

“As you can see, unfortunately, many young people may think that vaping does no harm, and that is a problem,” Henry said. “The outbreak of (e-cigarette and vaping product use-associated lung injury), and the appeal of e-cigarettes that they have upon young people, make vaping a public health threat. Up to 20 percent of high school students are vaping, as opposed to 3 percent of adults.

“Vaping appeals to younger patients who may be misled by these harms, because many of them are flavored — there’s over 15,000 flavors out there. So, they taste good, they look sleek, they’re alluring, they appear cool and they’re small. They look like little flashlights; you can keep them in your pocket. And, they’re easy to use unassumingly.”

State Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain, said North Carolina passed tighter youth vaping controls only to find minors could get around the law by ordering products online. Cooper responded that something could be done, however.

“There’s no perfect bills, Rep. Mitchell, but there are things that can be a deterrent, and I think that’s a possibility,” Cooper said. “I’m not writing a bill, but I think probably a lot of minors would not like their parents to know that they were purchasing vaping materials or e-cigarettes over the internet, and having to have someone 21 or older sign for the product might be a bit of a deterrent.”

Tuesday’s hearing can be seen in its entirety at The second vaping hearing has yet to be scheduled.

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