In the past week, three young adults, ages 17 to 20, have been hospitalized with vaping-related illnesses in Mobile County.
The dangers of vaping have received national attention. The seventh U.S. death attributed to a pulmonary disease attributed to vaping has been reported this week. There are currently 380 confirmed and probable cases of lung disease associated with vaping in 36 states.
“U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has declared e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic. The Mobile County Health Department recognizes the seriousness of this matter, and is working with local governments and medical facilities to make the public aware of the dangers stemming from vaping,” said Susan Stiegler, Mobile County’s Assistant Health Officer.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reported that 24.5 percent of high school students in Alabama use e-cigarettes, as compared to 20.8 percent nationwide.
“Of the nearly 5 million youth who use some type of tobacco product, more than 3 million use e-cigarettes. Too many young people believe that vaping is a safer alternative to traditional tobacco products, but the fact is, some of these devices can deliver as much nicotine in a single cartridge as in a pack of cigarettes. We want people to understand the dangers of tobacco use and pursue a healthy, tobacco-free lifestyle,” said Scott Harris, Alabama’s state health officer.
Alabama passed a new vaping act on August 1 that put in place major changes for retailers who advertise and/or sell alternative nicotine products, including vape devices and liquids. These changes are geared toward limiting marketing that targets minors, as well as limiting minors’ access to alternative nicotine products.
“We don’t know the long term effects of vaping and there’s definitely something that needs to be done. The only thing I could think of trying to stop the problem among youth is putting an age limit on who can buy these products, like tobacco, as well as monitoring what’s being put into these products,” said Alan Collins, senior at Samford University majoring in secondary education.
Collins has worked in various high schools in efforts to complete curriculum requirements in order to graduate and receive his teaching license. He mentioned that he’s had various encounters with students who vape including instances where he caught students vaping in restrooms at school.
Wilson High School in Florence, Alabama has had the same issues that Collins has witnessed and removed doors from stalls in their restrooms to discourage vape use in their restrooms.
A new law will go into effect October 1 that will prohibit the sale of vape products and e-cigarettes to minors.
“I know a large number of college students who vape daily, and even more who vape in social settings such as parties. I think that it is definitely becoming a problem and age limits when buying vaping products need to be strictly enforced,” said Richard Chapman, Mobile native and UMS-Wright graduate.
Chapman also believes that the sale of cheap third-party options for vaping products on the internet and local vape shops are contributing factors to the illnesses reported in Mobile County.
Health officials have advised to stop vaping if you experience any symptoms that include cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, with symptoms growing worse over a period of days or weeks before admission to the hospital.