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Students split on vape danger

With hundreds of vape-related illnesses confirmed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention this month, Texas Woman’s University students are split on how they are taking the recent updates with the vape-related disease. 

Senior medical laboratory technology major Taylor Kennedy started vaping this past summer, but she stopped after she noticed that it was negatively affecting her body. 

“I am very aware of my body, and I started to do research when I noticed my asthma was being more and more prevalent,” Kennedy said. “I stopped [vaping] after noticing that my asthma was getting worse, and I started to have to use my inhaler more frequently. I am glad I did with the rising rates of deaths I have been seeing.“ 

The CDC does not know the specific cause for the lung illnesses, but the organization is working with the Food and Drug Administration and state health departments to record information about recent electronic cigarette products used by patients and test the chemicals in vaping items. As of Sept. 19, there are 530 confirmed cases of lung injury across 38 states and one United States territory. Many of the affected individuals have reported using e-cigarettes containing tetrahydrocannabinol known as THC, the chemical ingredient that responsible for creating a high sensation. Other patients have used products with THC and nicotine. 

Currently, the CDC believes the cause of the illness is chemical exposure. Patients have reported experiencing respiratory symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing. Other reported symptoms include vomiting, fatigue, fever and abdominal pain. 

Despite the fact there is not a lot of knowledge on what is causing the vape-related illness, Dr. Constance Menard, the director of Student Health Services, expects that the investigation will affect the future of vape products. 

“I anticipate vape products are going to change in the future, and I don’t think anyone can predict exactly how right now, based on current knowledge,” Menard said. “Flavorings are likely to change, and the legal age to buy tobacco products will change in many states, as it recently did in Texas with legal age increased from 18 to 21- except for members of the state or US military where it remains 18- are some examples.” 

Senior psychology major Amanda Wicker has the opposite view. Wicker did hear about the vape-related illness, but said she tries to ignore it. Wicker started vaping three years ago after a friend suggested that it might help her feel less stressed.

“I basically use it when I’m really stressed,” Wicker said. “When stuff with my family, school or work start piling up, that is when I start using it more. I have friends who do vape, so when I’m around them, I use it more. It’s more social. “ 

Menard recommends TWU students follow the CDC recommendations, which include refraining from using vape products. 

“All [of the CDC’s recommediations] are important, but I’d like to highlight not buying products off the street or modifying products for uses or substances not intended by the manufacturer,” Menard said. 

Plamedie Ifasso can be reached via email at pifasso@twu.edu.

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