Addressing tobacco-related disparities among the underserved in the Central Valley

Local News

FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Fresno County health officials are investigating six vaping-related illnesses.

Tuesday morning numerous valley organizations came together to address the growing number of illnesses and deaths regarding E-cigarettes and vaping.

The use of electronic smoking devices and vapes among youth and young adults has increased. Vaping is now associated with a strange lung disease which has resulted in seven deaths nationwide.

Melanie Ruvalcaba with the Fresno County Department of Public Health said there is still a lot to learn from these types of illnesses.

“There is still nicotine in the e-juice you can still become addicted and on top of that since they are not regulated we don’t know what is in them,” said Ruvalcaba.

“Why would you put something in your body that you don’t know what it is?”

Ruvalcaba said no one really knows what is exactly in the e-cigarette juice, which makes it hard to pinpoint what is causing the growing number of illnesses.

“With the vaping, I think they are just not sure,” said Ruvalcaba.

“They do know that the lungs are so severely damaged by either chemicals and when you vape the chemicals get deeper into your lungs.”

Tulare County Health Department reported the death of a 40-year-old man this past weekend. They are investigating his death as a severe pulmonary injury associated with vaping.

Carol McGruder is the Project Director for African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. She spoke about the dangers nicotine has on the brain.

“Anyone can become addicted and addiction is about access to people and brain chemistry that’s it,” said McGruder.

At the press-event on Tuesday, organizations spoke about the dangers vaping ads have on teens and young adults.

Rosendo Iniguez with the Hispanic Latino Coordinating Center said companies produce appealing flavors for kids to try and get hooked without their parents knowing how dangerous it really is.

“Certain communities or specifically parents aren’t aware of the issue of vaping and don’t know what an e-cigarette is,” said Iniguez.

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