JACKSON COUNTY (WSIL) — As health officials across the country continue to report more vaping-related deaths, health leaders in southern Illinois are still working to find out how exactly vaping affects the body.
"We don’t quite understand the etiology behind vaping, but what we do know is that it contains nicotine and people are being affected and harmed as a result," said Cordero McCall, the regional tobacco prevention & control coordinator at the Jackson County Health Department (JCHD).
One common misconception about vaping, McCall says, is the belief that it can help people quit cigarettes, adding that there’s no evidence to support that claim.
"We’re finding that it’s a road block, a stop sign," McCall said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 1,000 cases of lung illnesses across the U.S., adding that 80% of those cases involve patients who are 35 years old or younger. The agency says most of the cases are linked to vaping products laced with THC.
McCall says the effects from vaping can vary depending on what products are used and adds that any type of vaping can delay growth in children.
"Your decision-making skills are going to be compromised, the way that you think, the way that you store information is going to be compromised," McCall said. "In some way, shape or form we’re seeing that correlation of that respiratory distress and that neurological deficit regardless of how it’s used."
JCHD is working on ways to educate residents and children about vaping’s effects, including McCall who works with the Carbondale chapter of the Boys & Girls Club.
"We have a program called ‘Engaging Youth With Positive Change’ and within that program I try to educate the community as much as possible and let everyone know about the disadvantages of vaping," said McCall. "We really need to get a handle on it and we need to address it."