Newswise — October 29, 2019 ― Point Pleasant, NJ ― Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network, conducted its first Take Vape Away symposium, partnering with the Point Pleasant Borough School District to alert adolescents and adults about the dangers of vaping, which have led to more than 1,600 lung-related illnesses and 34 deaths in the U.S., including a New Jersey woman, according to the CDC.

A panel of medical experts, school district leaders, and educators discussed the dangers of vaping and Hackensack Meridian Health officials presented the School District a grant for $7,000, the first distribution to combat vaping in middle school and high school.

“As a father and health care executive, I am alarmed at the vaping epidemic especially when it comes to young people and I am pleased that Hackensack Meridian Health is taking the lead against youth vaping,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.

 More than 1,600 patients have been treated for lung injuries associated with vaping across the U.S.  and 34 have died, including a New Jersey woman and two others in the Tri-State area, according to the CDC. More than one-third of the patients treated for vaping-related illness are 20 and younger. 

 “The number of adolescents has grown exponentially and today more than 1 in 4 high school students report using e-cigarettes, which is a dramatic increase in just one year,” said Regina M. Foley, Ph.D., MBA, RN, chief hospital executive of Hackensack Meridian Health Southern Ocean Medical Center, who moderated the panel.

 “We are grateful for the support from Hackensack Meridian Health to help prevent students of the Point Pleasant Borough from starting to vape and assist those already using e-cigarettes to overcome their nicotine addiction,” said Vincent Smith, superintendent of Point Pleasant Borough School District.  “This grant comes at the perfect time to build upon our local efforts already in place to address the health effects that come along with e-cigarette use.”

Experts are still uncertain what is causing the serious lung injuries, but regulators and lawmakers are proposing banning some products. The FDA will develop guidelines to remove from the market all e-cigarette flavors except tobacco.

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