State officials hold forum on vaping risks

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - With more than 3,000 reported cases of vaping-related illnesses nationwide since August and vaping now linked to more at least 64 deaths, the Indiana State Departments of Health and Education are making sure the public stays informed.

At Penn High School Thursday night, representatives from both departments explained that "plenty of people will tell you that vaping is safer than smoking, but no one says vaping is safe."

"I'm here to tell you that it's not," said Jason Murrey from the Indiana State Department of Education (DOE).

The departments' goals for the night were to simply keep the public in the know.

"It's really jus to educate people, let people know about the resources the Department of Health, the Department of Education have to offer with schools in particular," said Miranda Spitznagle of the Indiana State Department of Health.

Those resources include the Indiana State Department of Health's website which has resources for people looking to quit vaping and more information on possible adverse health effects. People can also text "Indiana" to 88709 for tips on quitting Juul.

Jason Murray said it's hard to track vaping statistics accurately because some companies like Juul have marketed their product "so effectively," according to Murrey, that some teens believing they are not vaping when they use a Juul. Instead,  they say they are "Juuling."

It's that kind of marketing that has middle school parents like Francie Davis outraged.

"It's infuriating to me that anyone is marketing devices that allow kids to secretively inhale Nicotine or whatever is in there that we know is harmful," Davis said.

Other parents like Janice Andrews, who has young grandchildren, left the forum feeling like they knew where to get their questions answered.

Andrews said it's important for adults and children alike to be educated about the dangers of vaping.

"I think it's important for us adults to also know what's happening with children and what is available out there that we don't know about because we can easily just put ourselves in a bubble if we allow ourselves to be that," Andrews said.

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