VUSD wants to clear the air on teen vaping

Visalia Unified will hold two community meetings this month on the health impacts of e-cigarette use

The Sun-Gazette

VISALIA – A lot has happened since Tulare County had its first vaping related death last September. 

On Sept. 16, a Tulare County resident became the first vaping associated death in the Central Valley. On Oct. 8, the Kings County Department of Public Health announced a local woman was the second vaping related death in the Valley. Both cases are part of a recent spike in Kings, Fresno, and Tulare counties of individuals being admitted to hospitals with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI).

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a statement in October that it, as well as the FDA, state and local health departments, were investigating a multistate outbreak of EVALI. As of Jan. 21, 2020, there have been 2,711 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 1 U.S. territory. There have been 60 confirmed deaths. 

The announcement prompted Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) to hold its first community presentation on teen vaping later that month. VUSD is continuing its community presentations this month to keep parents and community members informed about vape-use among teenagers. The presentations, followed by questions and answers, will be held on Thursday, Feb. 13, at Goshen Elementary School, and on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Green Acres Middle School. Both presentations will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Community agencies will be on hand to provide materials and helpful resources.

“The industry is constantly creating new ways to hide evidence of the dangers of vaping, and as a nation we are seeing tragic loss of life due to vaping,” noted Frank Escobar, director of student services for Visalia Unified School District. “It’s critically important that parents become more aware, know what to look for, and be prepared to address it with their child.”

The results of the CDC’s investigation were reported on Dec. 20 and found that 86% of EVALI cases used products laced with TCH, the active psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and 96% of them included Vitamin E acetate. The few cases that did not include Vitamin E included others oils, such as coconut oil and limonene, a citrus flavoring agent used in food manufacturing.

Vitamin E is a vitamin found in many foods, including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, fruits and vegetables as well as dietary supplement and in many cosmetic products, like skin creams. It does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, previous research suggests when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung functioning.

National data show that certain groups of EVALI patients released from the hospital are more likely to be re-hospitalized or die. The CDC is recommending that people refrain from any type of e-cigarette, particularly those containing THC, don’t buy vaping products from street or pop-up vendors, and reminding everyone that there is no safe tobacco product and that they are especially harmful to youth.

“Since the specific cause or causes of lung injury are not yet known, the only way to assure that people are not at risk while the investigation continues is to consider refraining from use of all e-cigarette and vaping products,” the CDC said in a released statement.

One in eight California high school students use some type of tobacco product and 84% of those use e-cigarettes and 86% prefer flavored products, according to the California Department of Public Health’s California Tobacco Control Program. Vaping now accounts for nearly one third of all second hand smoke youth are exposed to. 

For more information regarding the presentation, contact Frank Escobar, 559-730-7570 or email [email protected].

Start typing and press Enter to search