In a rare move the United States Surgeon General has released an advisory, for only the second time this year.
In the advisory released Tuesday, Surgeon General Jerome Adams calls e-cigarette usage among youth an “epidemic”.
“We’ve been talking about this for a year or more that we’re seeing it in the front lines. We’re seeing more and more youth who are using e-cigarettes as a form of getting nicotine product into them,” said Gundersen Health System Allergist Dr. Todd Mahr.
According to a government report released this week, more than 1 million teens starting vaping this year.
An issue local schools are fighting in the Coulee Region.
“We really became concerned about this last year. In winter we generally started seeing students who are not considered risk takers, students who generally aren’t using any other kind of stimulants or chemicals, suddenly finding vaping,” said Onalaska High School Principal Jared Schaffner.
Schaffner says vaping has become a problem not only at his school, but at schools across the state.
Partially due, experts say, to a lack of understanding teens have about the nicotine-filled products they are using.
“I had a patient with cystic fibrosis, a horrible lung disease. She came in last week and she told me I want to use e-cigarettes. And it’s like ‘Why?’ She goes ‘I don’t want the nicotine I want the taste.’ That’s kind of like ‘Well that’s the wrong thing to do, we can get you a lifesaver, OK?'” said Mahr.
In the advisory, Adams calls for aggressive steps to protect teens.
“I think that the thing that we’re continuing to focus on is to make sure that we’re educating two different groups. We’re educating our students about it and then continuing to make sure parents are aware of it,” said Schaffner.
Education to help curb a significant, yet avoidable, health risk to teens.