LONGMEADOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Recent spikes in vaping-related illnesses are causing some states to take action. This comes after the first reported e-cigarette related death in the U.S.
Now, Juul is speaking out.
Cities are taking action and warning people about vaping related illnesses after 16 people were hospitalized in Milwaukee, reported to have chemical pneumonia, which causes inflammation of the lungs.
Milwaukee's warning comes after the first reported e-cigarette linked death in Illinois.
In western Massachusetts, Longmeadow substance abuse response coordinator Shelly Warren said vaping is one of their top concerns in their schools.
"As has been the case nationally, we're seeing more and more of our young people experiment with it and some end up getting hooked. It's the fastest growing substance students are involved with," Warren said.
Warren told Western Mass News that they do an anonymous survey to find out what substances their students are using.
We're told at Longmeadow High School, one-third of their students have vaped in the last 30 days, while nine percent said they vape daily.
Warren said that their school, especially, has problems with vaping because Longmeadow is so close to Enfield, CT, where the age to buy e-cigarette products is 18, not 21 like in Massachusetts.
"A good percentage of seniors are already 18, so it's perfectly legal for them right now to cross the border and purchase," Warren noted.
Juul, one of the top e-cigarette companies, released a statement to Western Mass News today that said they are taking new action to combat teen vaping problems.
The company said by May 2021, they will stop distributing their products to any retailer nationwide that does not implement their new I.D. checking program.
They said once a Juul product is scanned at a store, it remains locked until a valid 21 year old I.D. is scanned. This means no retailer can sell to an 18 year old like some can now.
However, with vaping concerns continuing to grow, some said that the problem is visible.
"You see some of these kids that are just addicted to it. I see them walking down the street and coming out of school, it looks like an addiction to me," said retired pulmonary clinical specialist Elizabeth D'Amour.
Warren said any Longmeadow student caught vaping is suspended and required to see her for counseling.
An event is planned at Longmeadow High School on September 6, featuring a panel discussion on vaping. More information about that can be found be found here.