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Huntsville City Schools warns parents and kids about vaping epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says millions of kids currently use electronic cigarettes. That's why schools are taking steps to make sure parents and kids are informed.

Posted: Aug 25, 2019 4:15 PM
Updated: Aug 25, 2019 5:40 PM

So far, Alabama is not among the 22 states reporting a lung disease that might be linked to vaping. Even so, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it still must verify some states.

Right now, the CDC is investigating almost 200 potential cases across 22 states. It's also looking into the first vaping-related death in the US.

The CDC says millions of kids currently use electronic cigarettes. That's why schools are taking steps to make sure parents and kids are informed.

"Parents need to educate themselves and keep looking," Anne Marie Martin said.

She is the youth tobacco prevention coordinator for Partnership for a Drug-Free Community. She says the JUUL company is to blame for today's vaping epidemic.

"They did a very savy social media campaign, so much so that the word juul became a verb," Martin said.

This week, JUUL's CEO Kevin Burns wrote an opinion article saying "We're trying to fight youth vaping, not promote it."

He later adds, "These actions, however, have not been followed by others in the industry and by those selling counterfeit or compatible products.:

The CDC says the number of kids using e-cigarettes is only going up. In 2017 and 2018, the CDC found that number went up by 1.5 million.

"Kids need to realize that these are not cool technical devices with flavor," Martin warned.

Martin says e-cigarettes contain nicotine, toxic chemicals from flavorings and heavy metal particles from devices that can all impact your body.

"Not only does nicotine rewire your brain to make you want it, but it also affects every system in your body. It's kind of like buying a new house and it's invaded by termites. It weakens the whole structure. Nicotine weakens the whole structure of your body," Martin said.

Nicotine addiction can even affect your mental health.

"It leads to depression, anxiety," Martin explained.

Still, some companies say e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking tobacco, which Martin says is not true.

"That's ridiculous because they don't know the risks involved," Martin said.

That's why Martin is fighting to make sure every one knows the facts.

"All we can do is share the facts and keep sharing them, and raise awareness among kids," Martin said.

Huntsville City Schools is planning to keep raising awareness. The district will host a vaping and e-cigarette forum in December.

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