Vaping Epidemic Hits Arizona Youth


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The vaping epidemic that is taking over the nation is impacting students in Arizona schools. 

The Arizona Department of Health Services has reported at least three cases of illness in youth

due to e-cigarette usage. 

The increasing rates of young adults across the country being hospitalized with conditions

related to e-cigarette use have Arizona school officials concerned. 

 

“I am very concerned about the increased use of vaping, not just in our schools but in our

communities, especially by youth,” Kathy Hoffman, Arizona State Superintendent said in an interview. 

 

In 2017 Centers For Disease Control reported that the number of high schoolers in Arizona who were using e-cigarettes was 3% above the national average, which was 13.2%. That national average has now increased drastically to 30%. 

 

“I’ve seen a lot of my peers become very addicted to vaping and have had a really difficult time

getting themselves off that addiction,” Claire Yardley, 17, said. Yardley attends Chaparral High

School. 

 

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than twice the amount of

Arizona teenagers that smoke cigarettes are using now e-cigarettes.

 

At least nine individuals in the United States have recently died from fatal conditions related to

e-cigarettes, according to the CDC.

 

Dr. Clarence Addo, who specializes in oncology, said that doctors weren’t exactly sure what was

causing the “respiratory illness, infection, and lung failure” in those who have been hospitalized

due to the lack of knowledge about vaping.

 

“I always knew that vaping was harmful, but I didn’t realize how severe those consequences

could be until I heard all these stories about kids getting hospitalized,” Yardley said.

 

Consequences don’t seem to be something that teenagers who got hooked on vaping were

thinking about.

 

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a small amount of liquid that contains nicotine and

produces an inhalable aerosol. The fluids that are used with these devices can also contain

Marijuana.

 

The “vape juice” can contain harsh chemicals that are not safe to be inhaled and pose severe

threats to lung health.

 

“The number of hospitalizations we’ve seen has been avoidable,” Addo said, “but the un-

regulation of vape products went on for too long.”

 

In recent cases of hospitalization, unregulated chemicals in vape pens have been the culprit.

These devices can cause a plethora of long-term health problems in young adults, such as

nicotine addiction, struggles with breathing, lung disease, and even heart conditions. 

 

The more hospitalizations that are reported, the more Arizonans want to take action.

 

“We (The Arizona State Board of Education) have already reached out to the Department of

Health Services to see how we can collaborate to effectively inform teachers and high school

leaders about what we can do to reduce vaping in our schools,” Hoffman said.

 

Most schools already have small steps in place to stop students from vaping while at school.

 

“My school tries to enforce rules to stop vaping by sending teachers and security guards into the

bathroom during passing periods to catch kids vaping,” Yardley said.“I don’t think their efforts

have been very effective because I haven’t seen a lot of my peers get in trouble for vaping at

School.”

 

Hoffman stated that there needed to be a community effort because “it’s not just happening in

Schools.”

 

The community of Goodyear is one of the few trying to take a stand.

 

As of Sept. 25, the city of Goodyear passed an ordinance that prohibits the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to anyone under the age of 21. Smoking/vaping was also banned from public parks, school property, and school-related events. The legal age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products was previously 18. 

 

Although there is still a long way to go, the progress that is being made can save Arizona youth

from severe illness and avoid the epidemic that is sweeping the nation.

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