Vaping incident brings national problem to surface



With the use of e-cigarettes on the rise, “The CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are investigating a multi-state outbreak of lung injury associated with use of e-cigarette, or vaping products,” according to the CDC website.

By Ariel Leykin, Homestead High School

E-cigarettes, invented over ten years ago, are marketed as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. However, instead of transitioning from cigarettes to e-cigarettes, many teens are heading straight to e-cigarettes.

The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) CDC has reported e-cigarettes being linked to 12 deaths and the rise of lung diseases this year. Most patients were reported using illicit marijuana vape products that contained THC: the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that gives off the high sensation.

According to the CDC, about 16% of those inflicted are under 18 years old. This is impacting communities all across the country — including Mequon.

On Sept 11. a student from Homestead High School was found acting abnormally. “She was stumbling on her feet, falling and just not rational when she was talking,” Mequon police officer Capt. John Hoell said.

She was taken to the hospital and evaluated. It was discovered that her, along with five other girls, ages 14 – 15, were sharing a THC vape pen in a bathroom stall during first period.

“For students, the dangers involved are a lot more than they realize,” Hoell said.

Not only are there unknown health risks, but heavy fines are also included. All of the girls involved were fined for possession of THC and one of the girls was charged for drug paraphernalia. According to Mequon Police, each fine is $435, and a court appearance is mandatory.

The Mequon-Thiensville School District is not taking this problem lightly.

According to an official statement from the Mequon-Thiensville School District, “Vaping, whether nicotine or THC, is a matter we take very seriously. Substance abuse education, including vaping, is a formal component of our district’s health curriculum. However, we recognize that this is a community issue, and we continue to engage with families and community partners to make all aware of the dangers associated with vaping and substance abuse, and the available community resources.”

A related local story broke when concerned parents came to Waukesha police after finding THC products in their son’s room. The police were able to trace the products back to Kenosha County, uncovering a multi-million drug operation.

This drug bust led to the arrest of two brothers, Tyler and Jacob Huffhines, ages 20 and 23. During the search of their home, Kenosha Country police officer Sheriff David Beth says that the 18 pounds of marijuana, 31,200 cartridges filled with THC and 57 mason jars containing THC oil seized has a street value of around $1.5 million.

The CDC website states, “The CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are investigating a multi-state outbreak of lung injury associated with use of e-cigarette, or vaping products.” With the prevalence of vaping and JUULing growing, the CDC and other health organizations are warning parents and teens to be vigilant.

The Student Handbook outlines the policy for students regarding illegal substances at Homestead: “The district prohibits the use, possession, concealment or distribution of any substance and drug paraphernalia at any time on district property, in school buildings, in school vehicles, at any school event or activity or at any district-related event. Students who violate this policy may be referred to law enforcement officials and be subject to disciplinary action.”

This story was originally published on The Highlander Online on October 5, 2019.