Vape 'em if you got 'em: Jails sell e-cigarettes to inmates

CrossBar brand electronic cigarettes in Cleveland. Jamie Mosley, jail administrator of the Laurel County Correctional Center in London, Ky., developed the CrossBar brand of electronic cigarettes that is sold to many jails around the country.

This past week the U.S. saw the first documented death related to vaping.

The CDC have also now provided new information that 149 people across the U.S. have contracted “a severe respiratory illness after vaping.”

This week, the Utah Department of Health also announced it is investigating 21 cases of severe lung disease linked to vaping in our state.

Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

“All patients were hospitalized, with some needing assistance to breathe. While patients have improved with treatment, it is unknown whether there will be long-term health effects,” the Health Department states.

While all of this accumulated medical data is coming to light in states across the nation, so has the indignation from some in defense of the innocence of vaping and e-cigarettes.

It’s clearly not harmless; it might take years for scientists and doctors to realize the long-term effects of vaping but these developments serve as an indicator of what is yet to come.

For those saying it’s a safer alternative to smoking, it is an extremely misleading statement. While it might expose individuals to fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes, officials still don’t have a grasp on what chemicals are in e-cigarettes. Likewise, the FDA has not approved these products as a quit smoking aid.

John Hopkins Medicine has also published that, “A recent study found that most people who intended to use e-cigarettes to kick the nicotine habit ended up continuing to smoke both traditional and e-cigarettes.”

The medical and science community must research this so states can understand the dangers of it and set forth appropriate regulations.

Nicotine, found in traditional cigarettes, and many e-cigarettes remains an extremely addictive substance that negatively impacts any individual’s health, which has been widely publicized across America for decades.

New, flashy packaging and fun flavors to attract younger generations unaware of the side effects is a dangerous tactic being used by companies distributing these products, while they simultaneously do not understand the long-term consequences to their consumers.

A new generation of uneducated youth are vaping, not knowing or understanding future impacts to their health.

The most recent data in Utah from 2017 showed that 15.5% of Utah’s high school seniors reported vape product use — the highest among all age groups.

As scientists continue to make progress in understanding the effects, it is vital that parents communicate these to their children; that health classes in our school systems are up to date in sharing data on these trends; that communities and businesses take underage use seriously and abide by current regulations in place. Most recently Utah passed legislation preventing those under 21 to no longer buy tobacco and vaping products, which will be in full effect by July 2021.

Likewise, the public should be educated that vaping or use of e-cigarettes is included in areas where “smoking” is prohibited, including most public indoor spaces, according to state code.

Solutions to all these currently grey areas?

Don’t smoke. And don’t start.

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