Officials: vaping craze turning into a crisis among youth

Officials: vaping craze turning into a crisis among youth
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - In the last school year alone, more than two million middle and high school students nationwide admitted to using e-cigarettes within a 30 day period.

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A new report from the CDC said the spike in vaping among teens is now classified as an epidemic.

According to the US Surgeon General, the vaping craze has all the makings of a crisis with a 900 percent increase from years prior, with many users neglecting the dangers posed by these e-cigs.

"I think they're absolutely not aware of the dangers that come along with vaping," said Megan Williams, the executive director at Tobacco Free Amarillo. "It's a new product, no longitudinal studies have been done to ascertain the long term damage of these projects. But preliminary studies have shown that significant lung disease and damage have occurred."

One of the most popular products on the market is the Juul pen.

It's a small easily, concealable e-cig that looks like a USB drive which officials say is part of the appeal to youth.

"Nicotine we know causes constriction of the arteries which can be toxic to developing brain and other organs in youth," said Dr. Thomas Mercado, a physician at Neighbors Emergency Center in Amarillo. "The common misconception that the vapor is just water vapor or that it's completely harmless. The liquid that they use when it's vaporized actually creates formaldehyde and then the metal coil that are used to heat the liquid releases heavy metals that are toxic to the lungs."

Flavors for these Juul pens sound appealing, creme brulee or mango to name a couple, but doctors say the health risks are far from ideal.

"The flavoring appears to have diacetyl in it, which it used to be used in popcorn flavoring," said Mercado. "They stopped using it in 2008 because the factor worker at the popcorn plants they were starting to develop lung disease and they found it was linked to that. Basically this product causes scarring and creates the same problems similar to COPD."

Both River Road ISD and Amarillo ISD officials say while they haven't had any issues with Juul pens specifically, any students found with a vape pen on campus are subject to disciplinary actions.

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