Last week, IDPH learned of the death of an individual who had recently vaped and was hospitalized with severe respiratory illness. The number of cases of people reported to IDPH who have used e-cigarettes or vaped and have been hospitalized with respiratory symptoms has doubled in the past week. As of 8/23/19, a total of 22 people in Illinois, ranging in age from 17-38 years, have experienced respiratory illness after using e-cigarettes or vaping.
E-cigarette use is epidemic in the US and Illinois. Among Illinois high school seniors, past 30 day e-cigarette use is significantly rising while cigarette use is declining. In 2018, 8.4% of 8th grade students and 23.1% of 12thgrade students reported using e-cigarettes. Using e-cigarettes puts youth at risk for addiction and other health consequences, but unfortunately, 40% of 10thand 12th graders said there is low- or no-risk of harm when using e-cigarettes.
Tobacco 21 law, effective July 1, 2019, prohibits the sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to person under 21, however, youth continue to access and use these products at alarming rates. Parents and anyone who works with young people may have seen an e-cigarette device without even knowing it. The most often sold e-cigarette in the United States is a brand called JUUL, which looks like a USB flash drive. JUUL “pods,” which contain liquid heated by the device, have as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes. They also come in flavors, which can make them more appealing to young people. E-cigarettes can also look like other everyday items, such as highlighters, credit cards, remote controls, and pens. There are many internet websites which provide easy-to-follow instructions on how to alter or “hack” these devices to add other products such as marijuana.
The following materials have been designed by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assist school staff, administrators, and families with understanding these products and the dangers they pose to young people:
- E-cigarettes and Youth: What Parents Need to Know https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/pdfs/OSH-E-Cigarettes-and-Youth-What-Parents-Need-to-Know-20190327-508.pdf
- Talk with Your Teen About E-cigareetes: A Tip Sheet for Parentshttps://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/SGR_ECig_ParentTipsheet_508.pdf
- E-cigarettes and Youth: What Educators and Coaches Need to Knowhttps://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/pdfs/OSH-E-Cigarettes-and-Youth-What-Educators-and-Coaches-Need-to-Know-20190327-508.pdf