Fayette Commission hears vaping dangers update

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Ashton Harris tells commissioners about vaping dangers. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Ashton Harris tells commissioners about vaping dangers. Photo/Ben Nelms.

The dangers of vaping was a topic at the Oct. 24 meeting of the Fayette County Commission. Providing commissioners with an overview of the issue was Ga. Department of Public Health, District 4 epidemiologist Ashton Harris.

The presentation by Harris came with a wealth of information on the variety of topics included in vaping, the dangers involved, and specifically, the risk to students.

Harris said multiple studies have shown that the chemical additives in e-cigarettes are toxic to cells and can cause both lung and cardiovascular disease. Of Georgia’s 18 public health districts, District 4, of which Fayette is part, had the highest number of calls between 2011-2018 pertaining to nicotine poisoning.

Twenty-six percent of Georgia high school students in 2017 said they used e-cigarettes, Harris said.

Harris said among high school students who smoked, students living in urban areas were more likely to use both cigarettes and e-cigarettes and students living in rural areas.

In addition to believing e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes, students believe they are also less addictive and more socially acceptable than regular cigarettes. Also, current high school e-cigarette users were more likely to believe that e-cigarettes were less harmful than cigarettes compared to non-e-cigarette users, Harris said.

Harris said symptoms of vaping-associated lung injury, which worsen over time, include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

“People who vape may not know what is in these products because they can be modified to contain a mix of ingredients including dangerous and illicit substances,” said Harris.

Shutterstock image of woman holding a vaping device.
Shutterstock image of woman holding a vaping device.