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Vaping now a genuine cause for concern

It is becoming increasingly clear that vaping from e-cigarettes, whether nicotine or cannabis, poses a serious and deadly health risk to users.

So far, six deaths have been linked to vaping, along with hundreds of cases involving respiratory illnesses. Most of the victims have been young men under the age of 19. Previously, most were healthy, but ended up in serious respiratory distress from vaping.

We believe that vaping is a serious health threat. For that reason, we are joining together, along with the State Department of Health, to warn all Santa Feans, young and old, that they are risking their health and lives when they use this dangerous and addictive product.

Although the deaths so far have all been adults, the numbers show that young people are increasingly susceptible to vaping.

According to one U.S. government-funded survey released in December, about 37% of 12th-graders reported vaping over the past year – nearly a 10 percentage point increase from 2017.

Nicotine vaping rates among high school seniors doubled, and younger students also reported higher use; marijuana vaping rose, as well. And last year, a Centers for Disease Control report found that e-cigarettes were the most popular product among the nearly 5 million high school and middle school students who used tobacco within a 30-day period.

Students in the Santa Fe Public Schools have already been organizing and advocating for action. We need to support them and advocate for the health of everyone in our community.

In Santa Fe, it is already illegal to sell e-cigarettes or vaping products to minors. In light of the recent deaths attributed to vaping, and recognizing the inability of health experts to pinpoint the exact causes or remedies for the sudden increase in serious respiratory illnesses, we are calling on Santa Fe residents to refrain from vaping.

We need more medical information about the health and safety issues that have recently emerged. We also stand with our educational leaders, and county and state health experts in backing the Centers for Disease Control’s continued investigation into this dangerous product.

At this time, it appears that there are potentially long-term, unknown and even fatal consequences to vaping.

Alan Webber is mayor of Santa Fe. Kate Noble is president of the Santa Fe Board of Education.

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