As of Friday, there were 34 cases of serious vaping-associated pulmonary injuries, or VAPI, in Los Angeles County, according to the Department of Public Health. In addition to these cases, there was one death associated with e-cigarettes.
Both figures indicate the growing nature of the problem for local officials, from a health perspective, officials say.
Local experts have shared statistics that have indicated more than a third of high school students are vaping, according to Bob Sharits from The Way Out Recovery SCV.
County Public Health officials are still urging the public to: “Stop vaping now,” according to a release issued last week.
The local leaders in the fight have been the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, which has been working with the city of Santa Clarita on messaging, access and prevention.
“The J-Team at SCV Sheriff’s continues to be very active in Santa Clarita Valley, whether it is through educational presentations out in the community or conducting enforcement operations to identify businesses who are found to be in violation of selling to underage customers,” said Bill Velek, detective at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and J-Team leader.
The SCV Sheriff’s Station’s Juvenile Intervention Team, or J-Team, works to combat drug use and vaping within the city with a three-part approach: enforcement, intervention and education, according to the J-Team’s website.
The city recently passed restrictions on the sales of electronic cigarettes, with the City Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors both creating new regulations. Santa Clarita officials are conducting research on regulations while the city figures out its next move.
“With as many as 50% of those who are hospitalized for this severe respiratory illness requiring supportive care to help them breathe, it does bring some urgency to the issue and for Public Health to educate the community about the dangers of vaping,” said Tony Kuo, director of the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
For more information about the dangers of vaping and for weekly case updates, visit: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/sapc/public/vaping-faq.htm.