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Letter: Vaping has become an epidemic

Vaping has become an epidemic, threatening the health and lives of the community. On behalf of the Harford County Local Health Improvement Coalition (LHIC) Chronic Disease Prevention and Wellness Workgroup position statement, we are recommending that all persons should refrain from vaping or using electronic smoking devices (ESDs), particularly those containing THC, the active component of marijuana. Our major points are as follows:

ESDs contain harmful substances and should be avoided. ESDs are tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, vapes, pod devices such as JUUL, e-liquids, and component parts and accessories. Some of these devices have contributed to severe lung illness and sudden death, resulting in a multi-state outbreak of disease. The causative agent has not yet been identified. Illnesses have been reported in people using cannabis products with cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as nicotine-containing products.

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ESDs pose a safety risk for users and can cause severe, unintended injuries. E-cigarettes can accidentally explode, causing severe burns, injuries, and even death. In addition, the compound is highly toxic and users have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing or absorbing the liquid from e-cigarettes through the skin and eyes.

There is an especially high risk of teens and young adults as nicotine can harm brain development. More specifically, nicotine damages parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control. Nicotine can also affect the way a new memory or skill is learned by disrupting the synapses forming in the brain during this process. Since teens and young adults are using nicotine while they are young, they are also more likely to have an addiction to other drugs in the future. It is now illegal to sell ESDs to people under the age of 21 in the state of Maryland, due to these health risks in teens and young adults. Maryland’s Tobacco 21 law, effective Oct. 1, makes it illegal to sell all tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, to individuals under age 21.

We strongly encourage Harford County residents to not smoke and not vape. The complete text of our position statement can be found at harfordcountyhealth.com.

VICKIE ENSOR BANDS

Harford County Local Health Improvement Coalition Co-Chair

MOLLY MRAZ

Harford County Local Health Improvement Coalition Co-Chair

RUSSELL MOY

Harford County Health Officer

ROBERT WAGNER

Harford County Council

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