Shaheen, health officials discuss vaping popularity, dangers

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/5/2019 10:03:29 PM
Modified: 9/5/2019 10:03:22 PM

HANOVER — Woodsville High School junior Kaycee Reagan said the practice of “vaping” flavored juices using electronic cigarette devices has become widespread at her school.

So much so that students across all levels of academic success have taken it up.

“Everybody was doing it last year,” Reagan said during a roundtable discussion with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., at Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum in Hanover on Thursday afternoon.

The discussion came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the midst of an investigation of a multi-state outbreak of severe pulmonary disease associated with the use of e-cigarettes. So far, there are 215 cases in 25 states that may be associated with the outbreak. One death in Illinois and another in Oregon, announced earlier this week, also have been associated with the outbreak.

In the Twin States, Vermont health officials are investigating one suspected case, while New Hampshire has not yet announced any.

It’s not yet clear which chemicals contained in the juices people “vape” are causing the disease, which includes symptoms such as a cough, shortness of breath or chest pain, as well as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, fatigue, fever or weight loss. The juices generally contain varying amounts of nicotine, as well as solvents and in some cases cannabinoids.

Dr. Jim Sargent, director of the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth, said vape juices ought to be regulated to, for example, prevent companies from marketing the flavors that have become most popular among young people.

Reagan said mango and mint are the most popular vape juice flavors at Woodsville High.

Shaheen, who has proposed an E-cigarette Youth Protection Act that would require e-cigarette companies to help fund federal prevention efforts and enforce regulations, said that funding the Federal Drug Administration’s work through these fees would help it to enforce restrictions such as limiting the range of flavors companies could offer.

Shaheen said she was “hopeful” Congress might be able to pass some form of her bill “as part of the appropriations process this year.”

In the meantime, public health officials are working to catch up with the trend in vaping, especially among young people whose brains still are developing and may be especially affected by the chemicals in vape juice.

Dr. Sai Cherala, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ chief of the Bureau of Population Health and Community Services, said she and others in the public health field are working to develop a way to educate people about the risks of vaping, while they are still learning about e-cigarettes. She said one concern is that young people who begin vaping may be more likely to begin using other substances or take other types of risks.

“How do we intervene?” Cherala said.

In a health advisory issued late last month, the Vermont Department of Health asked health care providers to watch for and report any suspected cases of vaping-related pulmonary illness to the department, according to a news release on Thursday. That information will be shared with the CDC.

After the e-cigarette discussion, Shaheen was slated to visit Hudson Farm in Etna and attend a fundraiser for her campaign at the Hanover home of Scott and Mary Brown.

Shaheen is up for re-election next year, and former House Speaker Bill O’Brien, retired Brigadier Gen. Don Bolduc and attorney Corky Messner are all seeking the Republican nomination to challenge the two-term incumbent.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski also is considering a run for the seat.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.

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