Vaping products, according to health experts, can contain as much, if not more, nicotine as traditional cigarettes.

Vaping products, according to health experts, can contain as much, if not more, nicotine as traditional cigarettes.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki


Oakland County cracks down on underage vaping

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published October 25, 2019

 Oakland County Executive David Coulter said marketing for vape products is often geared toward young people.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter said marketing for vape products is often geared toward young people.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

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OAKLAND COUNTY — If you look at a map of all the spots in Oakland County where e-cigarettes, vape juice and other vaping paraphernalia are sold, you notice something interesting.

Those spots tend to be clustered around schools.

Lots of people believe the manufacturers of e-cigarette products purposefully market their wares to kids, with bright packaging and tasty flavors. You can count in that lot the Oakland County Health Division, Oakland Schools and the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities.

In fact, those organizations announced recently that they’ve teamed up to “align resources” and better spread the word about the dangers of young people vaping. The legal age in Michigan for a person to purchase or possess e-cigarette products is 18.

“This partnership is focused on providing education, advocating for changes in public policy and creating a healthier environment,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said during a press conference Oct. 14 at the North Oakland Health Center in Pontiac.

“By working together, we can move the needle on how many teens are endangering themselves by using e-cigarettes.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 5 students between eighth and 12th grades regularly uses vaping products, and even more have at least tried using some type of e-cigarette product. At the beginning of October, the first Michigan death caused by a vaping-related lung injury was reported, adding to the overall 1,299 vaping-associated illnesses and 26 deaths reported nationwide.

While the scientific community is still mulling over what the most dangerous aspect of vaping may be — chemicals in vape juice and combustible electronic devices are just a couple of the risks — most agree that the nicotine contained in most vape produces is near the top of the list. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, just like traditional cigarettes, cigars and tobacco products, but sometimes the levels of the drug can be even higher. Some e-cigarettes can contain as much nicotine as 20 regular cigarettes.

Add to that the aerosol and other heavy metals that create the “vape,” and you’ve got a harmful substance that the Oakland County Health Division considers a serious public health issue.

“It’s the potency: Kids don’t understand the level of nicotine in these products and how addictive they are,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, Oakland County’s health officer.

“Kids don’t know, parents don’t know and, most importantly, legislators creating these laws don’t know,” added Julie Brenner, the president and CEO of the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities.

Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, the superintendent of Oakland Schools, said that the Michigan Model for Health state curriculum applied in schools needs to increase its emphasis on what’s really in e-cigarettes.

That and, of course, providing guidelines for adults on how to vape responsibly if they choose. That includes:

• Avoiding vape products containing THC.

• Immediately seeing a health care provider if you have a history of vaping and experience symptoms like shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting.

• Never buying any vaping products off the street.

• Never modifying vaping devices or products, including those purchased through a retailer.

Adults who smoke traditional cigarettes and are thinking of using e-cigarettes as a replacement should first consider other quitting methods, officials said. Call (800) QUIT-NOW for tips on how to quit smoking.

To learn more about Oakland County’s effort to mitigate vaping-related illnesses among young people, visit oakgov.com/health or follow @publichealthOC on Facebook and Twitter.

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