Breathe Free, Break the Cycle

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)- Vaping and e-cigarette use in schools is on the rise and becoming an epidemic.

According to a 2018 Georgia Department of Public Health study, more than 3.6 million US middle and high school students used e-cigarettes and vapes at least once a month.

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There was a close call in Fort Worth, Texas when a teen was rushed to the hospital because of vaping.

17-year-old Tryston Zohfeld spent 18 days in the hospital after he woke up and couldn’t breathe.

“You know I woke up about 6 or 6:30 the next morning just throwing up everywhere,” Zohfeld said. “I could just feel my heart just pounding out of my chest going a hundred miles an hour.”



Machines kept Tryston alive until he was strong enough to breathe on his own.

When he recovered, he knew he had to warn people of the dangers of vaping.

According to Dr. Christy Peterson, a Pediatrician with Navicent Health, there is a significant increase in the number of teens that use e-cigarettes and vapes.

“They are not safe because there are still risks involved with the chemicals that are being inhaled into the lungs there could be respiratory symptoms as well as cardiac and neurological symptoms,” Peterson said.

The FDA has the ability to regulate the manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale, and distribute electronic nicotine delivery systems.

But the FDA does not have the authority to regulate vaping accessories.

Michael Hokanson, Public Information Officer for North Central Health District, says while vaping might seem like a healthy alternative to cigarette use, it still contains nicotine.  

“Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical,” Hokanson said. Of course, with nicotine, it can affect brain development. When it comes to teenagers their brain is still developing and the brain continues to develop until age 25.” 

Jimmy Watts, the headmaster at Windsor academy, says Windsor has no tolerance for e-cig and vaping use.

“Usually the first day is 3-day suspension,” Watts says. “It’s a pretty strict policy and it goes from there. we always get in contact with the parents and have a parent conference and make sure they are aware of what their students are doing.”

Dr. Catherine Duncan, a General Pediatrician at Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, says the chemicals in vapes and e-cigs can be harmful to brain development among other issues.

“Toddlers ingesting these chemicals and getting sent to the hospital for toxic ingestion and for kids being admitted to the hospital for lung problems,” Duncan said.

Dr. Duncan says she has seen many cases involving exploding devices.

Mary Townsend, a senior at Mercer University, says she has been vaping for three years.

“My younger sister is in high school and all of her friends have started buying Juuls and stuff like that,” Townsend said. “I think it’s because it went from being, tasting icky to being like fruit and you can do it inside and it’s not detectable for parents especially.” 

Schools urge parents and guardians to educate your child on the dangers of e-cigarette and vaping use.

More information about e-cigarettes, visit the FDA website. You can also visit the CDC website.