BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – With the vaping epidemic that’s sweeping across the nation and Kern County, local groups are trying different ways to raise awareness of the dangers, particularly in young people. So one high school organized a presentation today with the Bakersfield police department.
Garces High School educators say that while they don’t have a problem with vaping on their campus, they wanted to make sure their students are well-informed.
The recent surge of lung disease and deaths linked to vaping and its popularity among youth caught the attention of Garces high school educators.
“We’re not naive to think that it is not going on more so, but like I said it’s in epidemic proportions and our goal here is to protect our students,” said Kelly Olson, dean of students at Garces High School.
The high school held a presentation to inform its students about the dangers behind vaping. Bakersfield police officer Chris Peck led the presentation.
“We all remember being in high school,” said Chris Peck, Bakersfield Police Officer. “Whatever our favorite musician is doing, favorite actor, celebrity is doing is what we want to do. we want to be cool.”
Peck informed students about vaping misconceptions, the dangers and the deaths and hospitalizations that have resulted from it.
“It was very eye-opening,” said JP Etcheverry, Garces High School sophomore. “I didn’t know it was that bad. There’s a lot of excuses for vaping that it isn’t that bad, but it really opened my eyes.”
The Kern County Public Health Department reports about 15 percent of our youth use tobacco, about two percent above the state average.
“It’s disappointing that it is such a widespread issue and that so many kids are doing it,” said Etcheverry. “They don’t know all the facts.”
The facts are it can make you very sick. Last week, public health confirmed the third case of vaping-related hospitalization in our county. Statewide there are 104 cases and two deaths reported since June. Nationwide, vaping-related illnesses have topped 1,000 with a total of 21 deaths reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“If this presentation keeps one student from trying a vape product and getting addicted, I think it’s successful,” said Olson. “Peer pressure is a great thing among young people and her at Garces our mission is to educate our students academically, spiritually and socially.”
The Kern County Public Health Department advises anyone who has used e-cigarettes and is experiencing respiratory problems to seek medical attention.