Emily De Vito
Updated: October 22, 2019 11:20 PM
Created: October 22, 2019 11:11 PM
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Concerns over vaping continues to grow across the country as the number of illnesses and deaths related to it continue to climb.
Tuesday night the Saratoga Springs School District partnered with Saratoga Hospital and other community partners to educate parents, teachers and community members about the dangers of vaping.
“I've seen a lot of epidemics in the height of the AIDS epidemic, we've seen now two measles epidemics in the past 20 years, this is just as important from a public health point of view,” said Dr. John Pezzulo with the Saratoga Hospital Medical Group Primary Care Scotia-Glenville office.
According to the Centers For Disease Control the latest numbers show there have been nearly 1,500 illness linked to vaping and 33 deaths across the country. Public health officials were at Maple Avenue Middle School Tuesday night to talk about the dangers of vaping. The night specifically focused on the growing number of youth using e-cigarettes.
"It's a product that children should not be even trying and trialing and as young as 13,” said Director of Saratoga County Public Health Catherine Duncan. “It's really scary that students are using it and thinking that it's okay to use."
Duncan said they do not have any specific numbers on youth vaping use in Saratoga County. However, data shows more than three million adolescents used e-cigarettes in 2018, including nearly 5 percent of middle school students. Duncan and Pezzulo said the problem is a lot of teens think vaping is safer than smoking a cigarette.
“It's actually just as if not more dangerous than conventional cigarettes,” said Pezzulo. “And that's the scary part you know, I think part of the talk is tobacco has been around for a long, long time. Vaping has been around for only 10, 12 years and why is it on the news every night.”
Back in September, New York State put a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. It was supposed to take effect early this month, however the ban was out on hold after a lawsuit was filed by the vaping industry saying the executive order is an overreach.
In the meantime, public health officials said they need to continue to bring awareness to communities about the dangers of the epidemic.
“It is a gateway to tobacco use later on and it's so appealing that they've made it appealing by adding the flavors and that's why the youth think that it's safe,” said Duncan.
If people do feel they’re experiencing an illness due to vaping they can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
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