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Concerns arise over vaping amid CDC investigation

by Kari Ashworth - News Editor | Katherine Fernandez - Contributing Writer
Tue, Sep 17th 2019 09:00 pm
Students attending The College at Brockport received an email on Monday, Sept. 9, regarding the CDC's recent investigation into multiple lung illnesses related to vaping.
Students attending The College at Brockport received an email on Monday, Sept. 9, regarding the CDC's recent investigation into multiple lung illnesses related to vaping.

Amidst reports of vaping related deaths and illnesses, officials at The College at Brockport sent out an informational email warning students of the dangers of vaping. 

According to the email, “450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 33 states and one US territory.” There is currently an ongoing investigation by the CDC, but nothing definite has come out of it.

Johnethen Spicer, a junior at the college, has vaped daily since he was a freshman but is actively trying to quit.

“I’m working on quitting but not because of the [CDC warnings], more just because, you know, [I would] rather not be addicted to nicotine over [time], but it’s not the vape itself,” Spicer explained.

 Spicer said the changes that came with college and being surrounded by friends who vape made him take it up.

“Once I got to college, I had less sports, I was involved in less things that required me to be physically fit, so my friends had me kind of start trying it,” Spicer explained. “My freshman year I said no for a while and I just kind of said ‘why not, lets try it’…it took me a while to like get my own…[I didn’t really start] vaping until like last year.” 

Even with all of the concerns surrounding vaping, Spicer is not worried.

“Right now I think there’s some long-term consequences maybe that we don’t realize,” Spicer said. “Personally with what the current issue is, I currently don’t have any qualms about it and I’m going to continue to vape. I don’t think it’s going to affect me; a lot of that seemed like off-product stuff or things that were a little sketchier, so I feel like as long as I avoid that I should be fine.”

Since studies on vaping and its effects are still preliminary, it is difficult to get an understanding on how many people are affected by the new smoking trend. Symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, vomiting, nausea and fatigue could indicate pulmonary distress as a result of vaping. 

Hazen Center for Integrated Care Director Cheryl Van Lare recommends not vaping at all, but if you are going to do it, you should be careful of what you are putting in your body. 

“Here on campus we know that students do vape,” Van Lare said. “We personally have not seen any cases [of vaping related illness]. It’s still early in the semester and we’re watching out for it. Not everybody tells us that they vape so it’s hard to determine. Every semester we ask questions like ‘Do you smoke?’ or ‘how often’ and now we’ve added ‘Do you vape?’”

Van Lare also urges students to refrain from buying vape products from unlicensed retailers or online due to a higher risk of contamination.

A senior at The College at Brockport, who chose not to be identified by name, says he has been vaping daily for years and never felt like his health was at risk.

“It’s really a matter of knowing what you’re putting in your body,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and never got sick. I put in the time to look into it when I started just to be sure and I think that’s the problem. Kids see their friends do it and don’t think for themselves, they just do it. That’s dangerous.” 

Spicer also agreed people should not take up vaping without doing the necessary research. 

“I’d say first, do your research, you know, know what you’re putting in your body,” Spicer said. “It’s important and if you don’t feel right about something, don’t do it. I mean, there [are] health risks associated with it, so like make sure you know where you’re buying your stuff from and you’re not doing sketchy things with it because that’s where the harm comes in.” 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared an emergency ban on flavored electronic cigarettes as a way to make vaping less appealing. By getting rid of fruity flavors like cotton candy and strawberry, health professionals hope to see a decline in the use of e-cigarettes by teenagers. 

New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker is set to meet with his peers this week to further discuss the ban. It could be set into motion as early as Oct. 4, 2019. The NYSDOH is also changing the legal age of smoking e-cigarettes and related products from 18 to 21, starting this fall. 

President Donald Trump weighed in on the issue this week, sharing his stance on Twitter. 

“While I like the Vaping alternative to Cigarettes, we need to make sure this alternative is SAFE for ALL! Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping!” Trump wrote. 

Trump also hinted at possible federal legislation regarding the use of these products, saying that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be issuing a statement within the next “couple of weeks.”

If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of pulmonary distress as a result of vaping, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 or visit your physician as soon as possible.

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