BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — The Alabama Department of Public Health said as of December 11, they have 13 cases of lung disease associated with e-cigarette product use, or vaping.
In October, ADPH confirmed the state’s first death from a vaping-associated injury. The deceased was an adult male in East Alabama.
Law enforcement in Alabama said the big worry is that a rapid growth of teenagers are using e-cigarettes and vaping.
Compact 2020, a community initiative organization, released information saying that 1/4 high school students in Alabama are vaping.
Captain Clay Hammac with Compact 2020 and the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force said it’s become a “social norm” for teens to vape. He said they’re seeing the age vaping all the way down to middle school-age students.
Hammac said the news of 13 confirmed lung disease cases is alarming.
“It’ is shocking and I think we have not even begun to see the generational impact that JUULS and e-cigarettes will have on our young adults. The truth is we’re in a very much in a small window of time from these products being introduced to the market ane becoming popular among school-age students,” said Hammac. “We have not even begun to see the impact 5, 10, 15 or 20 years from now. We know cigarette smoke is deadly. Smoking traditional cigarettes can lead to cancer, can lead to poor health in the latter years of someone’s life, but we do not have those long term studies yet for JUULS and e-cigarettes.”
Hammac said teens are also lacing their vape pods with THC and marijuana.
In the state of Alabama, it is illegal for anyone to purchase or use e-cigarettes if they’re under the age of 19. Hammac said in Shelby County, the first offense is a fine and the second is a mandatory court appearance with your legal guardian.
Hammac is calling for parents and educators to be relentless in educating students about the dangers of vaping.
ADPH released on their website that, “patients have experienced 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. Other symptoms may include fever, chest pain, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Most of the cases are among adolescents and young adults.”
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