Photo: (L-R) Morgan student, Kelly Edwards, Officer Spencer Mangs, Rep. MacLachlan, Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, David Melillo and Sen. Needleman.
CLINTON – With a dramatic increase in the number youth vaping and vaping related injuries in the state, State Representative Jesse MacLachlan (R-35) co-hosted a panel discussion with State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33) at the Morgan School with community stakeholders to address this concern and ways everyone involved can work toward a resolution.
Approximately 30 parents, students, educators, and other concerned residents showed up to share their stories, gain insight from the experts, and discuss solutions. Panelists included Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, Human Services Director Clinton Youth Services David Melillo, Prevention Coordinator Partners in Community Kelley Edwards, Officer Spencer Mangs, and a freshman student from the school.
“The forum is a big step in continuing a conversation about how we can all work together to educate our youth on the serious health risks of these products and initiate other prevention strategies in order to put a stop to the increased number of injuries and deaths we are seeing on a day-to-day basis,” Rep. MacLachlan said. “These companies through their advertising and usage of appealing vape flavors are directly targeting teens who are lead to believe their products aren’t harmful or addictive. Many are choosing to vape as an alternative to smoking, not aware of the dangers they are ingesting through these unregulated products.”
“The forum was very informative and helpful as we look to develop public policy going forward to deal with the epidemic of vaping, especially among young people,” said Senator Needleman.
During the forum, Dr. Bernstein discussed the vaping related cases he’s experiencing at Middlesex Hospital, while other panelists spoke about the steps they and their organizations are taking to help educate students and resist the temptations to start vaping.
According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), as of November 1, 2019 a total of 38 vaping related cases have been reported to the department. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported more than 1,800 cases of vaping-related lung injuries and 37 deaths across the country.
In June, Connecticut passed Public Act 19-13, An Act Prohibiting the Sale of Cigarettes, Tobacco Products, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Vapor Products to Persons Under Age Twenty-One. In doing so, Connecticut became the 16th state to adopt the ‘Tobacco 21’ law. Since Connecticut adopted the new policy, two other states have followed suit and raised their purchasing age to 21.