NOBLESVILLE, Ind- The American Medical Association has called for a complete ban on all vaping products not approved by the FDA.
The AMA says their call for a ban is partly based on the recent spike in lung-related illness with people who use vaping devices. Officials believe the culprit is a thickening agent sometimes added to black-market THC vaping products.
However, Hamilton County health officials say right now that’s just a theory, and the rise in teenage vaping is still a top concern.
In a public meeting Wednesday at the Hamilton County Juvenile Center, officials wanted parents to be aware of what their kids could secretly be doing.
"We know especially the Juuls and some of the vapes are really hard to figure out," said James Ginder, the Health Education Specialist for the Hamilton County Health Department. "Are they vapes, are they USB ports, are they battery packs?"
With an array of vaping products on display, parents were able to learn what the common vapes and e-liquids look like, and the potential dangers they have for youth.
“This is a huge issue and we've already had 4 deaths here in Indiana that have been linked to vaping,” Ginder said.
Across the country, there have been more than than 2,000 cases of lung illness related to vaping. Officials with the CDC say the culprit appears to be a thickening agent called vitamin e acetate, which can sometimes be found in black market THC products. However, Hamilton County health officials say right now that’s just a theory, and it's been a challenge to prove it is for sure the culprit.
“When we have cases, it's really important for the individual to give us their device and liquid so we can send it out to the State Department of Health to get tested," Ginder said of patients diagnosed with the illness. "A lot of individuals aren't doing that.”
Officials with local schools were also there. According to the FDA, more than 20% of high school students use e-cigarettes. But according to those on the ground, the number is likely higher.
“I think there's probably 60%-70%," said Brad Osswald, the School Resource Officer at Hamilton Heights High School. "That's what I get from talking to the kids.”
Schools say they’ve started using vape detectors, and teachers are becoming more aware. However, even with writing actual tickets, it’s still common among teens, and officials believe education is still lacking.
“I'm not out to write tickets, I don't get anything from that, it's the education,” Osswald said.
Some school officials said they’ve actually started vaping education classes for students caught using them in class. They’re hoping the increased warnings and patrols will also make a difference in schools.