An open meeting for the public on the “Health Consequences of Vaping” is being planned for 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, at Maine South High School, 1111 S. Dee Rd., Park Ridge, by the Maine Community Youth Assistance Foundation.
MCYAF Director Teri Collins is assembling a panel of health professionals from Amita Care (Advocate Lutheran General’s parent group) and North Shore hospital systems to discuss and answer questions about the recent hospitalizations and deaths being tracked across the country, linked to vaping, using e-cigarettes.
Collins encourages parents, community leaders, and any Dist. 207 teens or middle school students (districts Des Plaines 62, East Maine 63 or Park Ridge-Niles Dist. 64) who are not scheduled for end of semester tests, to attend the program, which will be held in the Principal’s Conference Room.
The issue of vaping, which has been marketed as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco products, is not automatically related to use of cannabis products, but there are overlaps in users and in contents which are marketed for using in e-cigarettes, with marijuana derivatives such as THC.
Collins and school resource officers in Dist. 207 had warned Park Ridge officials two years ago that local teens had been switching from tobacco products with nicotine to e-cigarettes. Some used nicotine, others used colorful flavored contents laced with cannabis derivatives. Parents were not always aware the situation existed.
Both types of contents have been proven in lab studies to be medically harmful to the developing brain functions of young adults, Collins reported then.
Park Ridge increased its minimum age for possessing cigarettes and vaping to 21, a stricter standard than the state’s.
With Illinois about to launch legalized sales of recreational marijuana on Jan. 1, 2020, the medical community is concerned that people will believe it is safe.
The national Center of Disease Control is collecting data, but there hasn’t been enough research on potential medical consequences of the vaping process itself, or the damages it may cause to the lungs of people using e-cigarettes at any age.
Collins said medical personnel say they have started to revise the questions they ask patients with respiratory distress during the initial triage before starting treatment.
They used to ask, “Do you smoke?” but now are starting to add, “Do you vape?”
The levels of degradation of pulmonary tissue found in some vapers’ bodies are far worse than doctors had expected, she has been told.
A scientist by profession, Collins is concerned that the best medical experts can only answer “maybe” when asked about a link.
In an e-cigarette industry which started barely two decades ago, Collins added, there are a lot of sites online offering “information” on products, but, “None of this is based on science.”