HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — High schools in Chicago’s suburbs are taking steps to discourage students from vaping. The measures come amid rising rates of illnesses linked to vaping including one death in Illinois that might be the first of its kind in the country.
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said 20% of high school students and 5% of middle school students are vaping. He is now leading the charge and launching a federal investigation into the national vaping epidemic.
“We were very distressed to learn on Friday the first death linked to vaping this person happened to be an Illinoisan,” he said.
The numbers of vaping related illnesses in Illinois are disproportionately higher than other states. There are nearly 200 cases reported nationwide —22 confirmed in Illinois — with another 12 under investigation.
High schools in the Chicago suburbs are doing their part to discourage vaping among students. Conant High School in Hoffman Estates has taken exterior doors off the entrances to bathrooms in the school. They also installed vaping sensors in bathrooms, but later removed them due to false alarms.
Similar sensors have been installed at Hinsdale Central and South High Schools, as well as Evanston Township High School.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has been pushing the head of the FDA to crack down on e-cigarette companies like Juul and how they market their products.
“He has the power today to ban the flavoring so attractive to children in high school and middle school and he refuses to do it,” Durbin said.
Last year, e-cigarette use among youth spiked 78% from the year before.
Lawmakers wanting answers, and to protect children from harm.
“This is a public health epidemic and crisis and we are not going to let up until we end it,” Krishnamoorthi said.
At Hinsdale Central and South, students caught vaping are also required to take a three hour online intervention course.
Other schools have signs about risks posted in bathrooms, and screen savers on computers.