KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Centers for Disease Control announced on Friday that as many as 450 people across 33 states may be suffering from vaping-related lung illnesses.
That number includes at least six reported cases in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. One of those cases was in Knox County.
With the numbers hitting headlines across the country, 10News reached out to East Tennessee school districts to view their vaping policies.
Knox, Anderson and Blount County Schools, as well as Maryville City Schools, responded. They all said the use of tobacco products, vaping and e-cigarettes are not allowed on campus.
All of those districts said that the use of tobacco products is already not allowed, which includes most vapes and e-cigarettes.
Students who violate policies face a range of consequences, including in-school and out-of-school suspension, a citation from the school resource officer or expulsion.
Since the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, a Knox County Schools spokesperson said the district has had 27 incidents in which items related to vaping, e-cigarettes or JUUL products have been confiscated.
Last school year, KCS had a total of 147 incidents in which items related to vaping, e-cigarettes or JUUL products were confiscated.
While officials have not pinpointed the exact cause of the vaping-related illnesses, the CDC said they believe a chemical is responsible.
Many who were sick, but not all, reported vaping THC products. One of the potential links health officials are investigating are unregulated street-sold cartridges.
The Knox County Health Department said people should be looking for these symptoms to determine if they may have a vaping-associated illness:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
Particularly watch to see if those symptoms get worse over a period of days or weeks, KCHD said.
Currently, the CDC only recommends vaping as an alternative for people who are trying to quit smoking tobacco products, saying it poses less known health risks compared to smoking. They still urge vaping should never be taken up by people who don't smoke, youths, young adults, and pregnant women.