With surprisingly high vaping rates in South Bay, BCHD partners with community, schools to develop programs and resources to combat e-cigarette epidemic
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (Oct. 1, 2019) – Medical experts and public health officials, including Beach Cities Health District (BCHD), are sending an urgent message to e-cigarette users of all ages: refrain from vaping now. With 12 deaths nationwide attributed to vaping and hundreds more people hospitalized, vaping has become an epidemic. This message is particularly important in the Beach Cities – Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach – where surveys have shown above-average rates of vaping, particularly among youth, compared to other areas of the state and the U.S.
In California, two people have died and 90 more with a history of vaping have been hospitalized due to breathing problems and lung damage, according to the state Department of Public Health, which warned residents Sept. 24 to stop using e-cigarettes until state, federal and local health officials find the root cause of a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping.
“E-cigarettes can include harmful substances like nicotine, which is highly addictive, and diacetyl, a flavoring that’s been linked to lung disease,” said William Kim M.D., chief medical officer for BCHD. “The Centers for Disease Control and the L.A. County Department of Public Health are recommending that all people refrain from vaping until more is known about the dangers involved – this is a serious public health crisis.”
According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, from 2017 to 2018, current e-cigarette use—defined by use on at least one day in the past 30 days—by high school students increased 78 percent, from 11.7 to 20.8 percent, accounting for a troubling 3.05 million American high school students using e-cigarettes last year. These devices are often sold in candy-like flavors that are appealing to youth, including strawberry, watermelon and pink lemonade.
“In the Beach Cities, the California Healthy Kids Survey reports that one in four 11th graders are vaping regularly and four out of five say it’s easy to access these devices,” said BCHD CEO Tom Bakaly. “We support the actions our local cities and schools have taken to tackle this problem and we are offering resources and educating residents about the dangers of vaping.”
BCHD has developed a series of programs and events to raise awareness and educate the community, including:
- Creating a vaping-specific web page with information for e-cigarette users, parents and educators at www.bchd.org/vaping;
- Hosting public forums on vaping and e-cigarette use;
- Partnering with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and UCLA to inform clinicians in the South Bay about symptoms associated with vape use;
- Hosting a training for school nurses and health aides in local school districts;
- Encouraging parents to “Talk About It” with their children.
These initiatives are part of BCHD’s ongoing efforts to reduce youth substance use. The Beach Cities Partnership for Youth Coalition, spearheaded by BCHD and comprised of more than 150 community partners, has prioritized substance use prevention since 2017, with a special emphasis on vaping. At the August Coalition meeting, a dozen students from BCHD’s Youth Advisory Council presented about health and social implications of the vaping epidemic. The Youth Advisory Council will continue to prioritize peer-to-peer strategies to combat this urgent health issue.
Additionally, through ongoing parent education and its partnership with South Bay Families Connected, BCHD has communicated with more than 6,000 parents on the topics of vaping, mental health and stress resilience.
“It takes an entire community to address a serious issue like this and we are working diligently to intervene and stop this epidemic,” said Bakaly. “Everyone has a role to play – youth, parents, educators, businesses and civic leaders – to stop vaping in the Beach Cities.”
For more information, go to www.bchd.org/vaping.
Media Contact: Dan Smith, BCHD (310) 374-3426, ext. 156 email@example.com