LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Several deaths, and countless cases of lung illness have already been confirmed across the United States due to e-cigarette use.
TSET healthy living program director at CCMH, Sandy Foster, said the recent spike in illnesses related to vaping and e-cigarette use has caused the CDC to step in.
“The CDC has put a warning out and what they said is if you vape, please don’t," said Foster. "So they’ve got a warning out saying anybody who uses these products, anybody who use e-cigarettes shouldn’t be doing it.”
Foster said these extreme health consequences are because of lack of research beforehand.
“The products got out there before the science could catch up with it, and that’s a problem" said Foster. "The other thing that also happened is the industry has been talking about them as a safer alternative, that they’re safe and you’re not smoking anymore, and as you can see, since now more and more people are doing it, the research is catching up and the research is showing they are dangerous.”
E-cigarette companies have been under scrutiny for their false advertising, and for who they are targeting.
“The problem is when you start looking at who’s using these devices, in Oklahoma about 23% of the people that are using them are teenagers. They’re our young adults,” said Foster.
The devices are an issue the Lawton Public Schools Police Department also faces.
“We have encountered some vapes last school year and that’s part of our bag checking process," said David Hornbeck, chief of police with the Lawton Public Schools Police Department. "In the morning time we do check for any contraband items and so we can intercept that during bag check.”
Hornbeck said the devices can be difficult to detect because of their design.
“They are easier to sneak in because they do resemble, like highlighters or maybe even a thumb drive," said Hornbeck. "We have confiscated some. The Juul brand that does look like a thumb drive, last school year we confiscated some of those and we’re going to treat them like anything else, tobacco product on school property.”
Hornbeck said the Lawton Public Schools Police Department has meetings at least once a month to stay up to date on these products to make sure students stay safe and follow the rules.