39 U.S. deaths; CHS students still vape

Despite new research and rising death count, CHS students continue to vape.

Thirty-nine deaths and 2,051 cases of disease and injury in the United States have been linked to vaping, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The vaping lung illness has been officially named E-cigarette or Vaping Product use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) and claimed victims from 21 states, ranging in age from 17 to 75, according to the CDC. Those suffering from EVALI are 70% male, and 36% are under 21, the legal age to consume marijuana and tobacco products, according to the CDC.

“While it’s the addiction to nicotine that keeps people smoking, it’s primarily the combustion [heating and vaporization of cannabis], which releases thousands of harmful constituents into the body at dangerous levels, that kills people,” said Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, in an official statement.

According to the CDC’s findings, THC-containing vape products may play a major role in the outbreak, as many of the victims of EVALI have a reported history of long-time vaping and THC use. Vitamin E acetate, an FDA-approved item often used in beauty products, is being used in counterfeit THC cartridges, according to the FDA. These cartridges are unapproved by the FDA and are being sold on the “vape black market.” Vitamin E Oil is replacing and being used to cut and thicken THC oil, as it is unscented and has the same viscosity, according to the FDA. When Vitamin E oil builds up in the lungs, it causes many symptoms of EVALI and leads to lasting lung damage. This information does not seem to bother CHS students, though.

“Students’ health and safety is our number one concern at this school, and when we know students are vaping inside and outside of school, as they have self-reported, we have reason to be very alarmed,” said Principal CJ Foss. “What we’re finding out is that not a lot of research has been done on the chemicals that are in the vapes, and an alarming number of young people are being diagnosed with cancer and have already died because they have vaped for a pretty short amount of time. So, that’s a pretty good reason for concern.”

In April, over 200 Calabasas High School students took a poll about their vaping and smoking habits. The results concluded that nearly half of those polled vaped at least a few times a week, while 22.8 percent vaped multiple times a day and 51 percent came from a home with smokers, indicating they are at a higher risk of becoming smokers. Additionally, another 30 percent admitted to vaping THC two or more times a week.

“As a district, we have established the Community 360 Counseling Center, and any students that are found with a vape device or caught vaping are referred to the counseling center,” said Foss. “They don’t just need discipline, they need to learn some facts about what they’re ingesting into their bodies.”

Despite the rising death count and the school’s efforts, CHS students are still vaping. Vapor detectors often go off, alerting administration that students are vaping in a particular bathroom, according to CHS staff members. One student, who wished to

remain anonymous, reported

regularly vaping and expressed no plans to stop.

“I have some rules; I go through one Juul pod every few weeks and don’t smoke THC carts,” said anonymous CHS senior. “As long as I don’t overdo it, I won’t end up in the hospital.”