Teens discuss vaping health issues

CAT CREW MEMBERS (from left) Jack Narine, Neve Van Duyne and Katelyn McLin presented the group’s vaping research to the Board of Education Monday.

Pam Monson
“We pretty much all know its bad for you, basically anything foreign you put in your body is bad for you, whether it be vaping or tobacco or drugs or alcohol.” Tim Cragg, President District 209-U Board of Education

The members of the Board of Education were “schooled” earlier this week on the dangers of vaping, in a students-become-the-teacher presentation.
The Wilmington Coalition for a Healthy Community’s CAT Crew set a goal of educating adults, parents and peers about the health issues connected to vaping, based on what they perceive as a community need.
“The CAT Crew, we promote a healthy clean teen life ... and we do a bunch of activities and make goals so that can happen,” explained Neve Van Duyne.
They’ve presented their research to a portion of the student body, and came to Monday’s School Board to share their message with school officials.
“They presented to all of the freshmen on this, and now they want to make sure that all of you know what they know,” said Wendy Hill, CAT Crew coordinator for the Coalition. “If you do, great, if you don’t then we’ll walk away more knowledgeable for it.”
According to the CAT Crew, a vape is an electronic device that heats a liquid and produces an aerosol that is inhaled. Most have a battery, heating element and chamber to hold liquid, which can contain nicotine or THC. They were originally promoted as a way to quit smoking, although vape products never received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for that purpose.
Vape products have been found to contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and toluene. In addition to toxins, and the possibility of the device exploding, the nicotine in many vape products cause harm to the brain and body, particularly in youth.
Some of the effects of long-term use include nicotine addiction, a weakened immune system, cancer and pre-term delivery and stillbirths in pregnant women, the CAT Crew members said. In addition, long-term effects of THC ingestion include a decrease in IQ, memory impairment and possible addiction.
Because the products are relatively new to the market, the true risks are unknown. However, the United States did see a surge in vaping related illness last year.
Since June 2019, more than 2,600 individuals were hospitalized for E-cigarette or Vaping Product use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) the name the Centers for Disease Control gave to the newly identified lung disease linked to vaping. Fifty-five deaths have been confirmed. The incidents of illness were reported from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The CDC announced that vitamin E appears to be associated with the illness, but has not identified a single ingredient cause. The frequency of incidents is now declining.
But the use of vape products is not. E-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018 shows a 78% increase in use among high school students, and a 48% increase among middle school students.
Under Illinois law, updated last July, an individual has to be age 21 or older to purchase vape products. The FDA is working on banning flavors that are attractive to youth, who say appealing flavors were their primary reason to use vape products.
“We pretty much all know its bad for you, basically anything foreign you put in your body is bad for you, whether it be vaping or tobacco or drugs or alcohol,” commented board President Tim Cragg.
The Coalition and CAT Crew will hold a vaping forum on March 18 at the Wilmington Middle School. It is the Crew’s goal to be presenters at the next Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute conference this summer.
“I have confidence in them and I think they’re doing great, and I just thought that you should know that,” Hill told the board. “They are trying very hard to be good examples in our community.”
Members of the CAT Crew who were present for the presentation also included Paige Persic, Katelyn McLin, Jack Narine and Myleana Petty. The CAT Crew also includes Alyssa Ohlund, Austin Rader, Becca Cahill, Emily Watson, Halle Haga, Karissa Esposito, Maddie Berman, Nick Gornik, Raelene Des Rochers and Anna Liaromatis.
The School District prohibits the use, possession, distribution, purchase, sale or offering for sale tobacco or nicotine materials, including electronic cigarettes for vaping/juuling.
According to assistant superintendent Kevin Feeney, the district does educate students about the health risks of vaping during health classes at the middle school and high school. Educators also talk to students about the negative side effects of vaping during school assemblies at the beginning of each year. The district does not ban restrooms trips, as some other districts do; however, adults check the bathrooms frequently throughout the school day. The district also continues to incorporate random drug testing through Riverside Hospital once every month at the high school.