Hidden Dangers of Disguised Vapes in Schools
As the new school year begins, authorities are urging parents and teachers to be vigilant about a concerning trend involving disguised drugs, particularly disguised vapes. These deceptive items can easily go unnoticed, posing serious risks to students. Vapes resembling school supplies, such as highlighters, have raised alarms. Some of these highlighter vapes are even available in flavors appealing to kids, like mango, strawberry banana, and blueberry ice. Reports also indicate that vapes can mimic USB drives, ballpoint pens, and phones.
Sergeant Stefan Bjes, a seasoned patrol officer with nearly two decades of experience in a Chicago suburban police department, has seen these disguised vapes infiltrate various stores and smoke shops across the nation. He emphasizes that despite being illegal in the US, flavored disposable vapes are being illegally sold and trafficked, often entering the country from China.
Bjes stresses the danger of these unregulated products, highlighting not only the well-known risks of vaping, including nicotine addiction and lung damage but also the potential presence of hazardous substances. The officer emphasizes that the lack of regulation leaves consumers unaware of the nicotine content or other harmful elements these vapes might contain.
Alarmingly, Bjes reveals that some of these Chinese manufacturers are also involved in producing and trafficking fentanyl, a potent opioid responsible for countless overdose deaths. He urges parents to educate their children about the dangers of these disguised, flavored vapes and calls for stricter government regulation.
Bjes argues that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must play a more active role in enforcing regulations and collaborating with state and local authorities to promptly remove these harmful products from shelves. The FDA spokesperson acknowledged the agency’s commitment to preventing youth access to e-cigarettes and vowed to hold companies accountable for targeting youth through illegal sales.
To date, the FDA has approved only 23 tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products and devices, the sole legal options in the US. The FDA has issued nearly 600 warning letters to companies involved in manufacturing, selling, and distributing unauthorized tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The agency is taking action against companies marketing illegal e-cigarette products that imitate toys, food, or cartoon characters that may attract youth.
A recent study revealed that disposable e-cigarettes contain larger quantities of nicotine and e-liquid, exacerbating the potential for addiction and adverse health effects, especially among young users. Nicotine exposure can impair brain development, harm blood vessels, and exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety.
A CDC study showed a nearly 50% surge in e-cigarette sales between 2020 and 2022. Sergeant Bjes urges parents to remain vigilant and ensure local authorities take steps to eliminate these dangerous vapes from stores, protecting the well-being of students and the community at large.