October 11, 2019

Senator Abrams, Rep. Linehan, Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Delphin-Rittmon Hold Forum on Vaping in Cheshire Thursday

CHESHIRE – On Thursday, State Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams (D- Meriden, Middlefield, Rockfall, Middletown, Cheshire), Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee, was joined by State Representative Liz Linehan (D-Cheshire), Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon and Cheshire High School Principal Mary Gadd at Cheshire’s Town Hall Council Chambers for a public forum on vaping. This forum comes as an increasing number of illnesses and deaths have been reported nationwide as a result of using vaping products and trends indicate vaping use is high in middle and high schools. Thursday’s forum saw officials and professionals discuss the rise of vaping and vaping products, health concerns from youth and public use and ways to combat the rising number of individuals using vapes.

Additional participants in Thursday’s forum included American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network government relations director Bryte Johnson, Department of Public Health Tobacco Control Program Supervisor Barbara Walsh, American Lung Association Director of Advocacy Ruth Canovi, Alliance for Prevention and Wellness Director Pamela Mautte and Callie Fritz, a Cheshire High School student and member of the Cheshire Young Democrats.

“Recent stories continue to confirm vaping is not the low-risk, healthy alternative to smoking it was initially sold as,” said Sen. Abrams. “This forum doesn’t just represent an opportunity for us to spread information and awareness about vaping products– it also presents an opportunity for state officials to learn more about vaping products from members of the public, especially students who see them used in schools. As Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee, I plan on putting forward legislation to protect young people who have been insidiously targeted by this industry from the dangers of vaping, and I will use what I learned tonight and in future forums throughout my district to better guide that legislation. We must protect our children and provide them with the best opportunity to lead healthy lives.”

“Youth vaping is a concern in our community, and I appreciate the work Senator Abrams is doing to combat the problem. Together we raised the age to buy tobacco products to 21, and together we’re spearheading legislation to curb online sales to minors. This forum starts the process of educating parents to the risks associated with vaping, as well as giving practical information to keep kids from using these products, and helping our kids who may have fallen victim to vaping addiction. Parental education is as important as passing legislation, and I’m thrilled to work with Senator Abrams and members of our community to tackle this health issue,” said Rep. Liz Linehan (D-Cheshire), co-chair of Committee on Children.

“The Department of Public Health continues to educate the public on the health concerns associated with nicotine, which is very addictive for our young people,” said Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell. “The recent death of a Connecticut resident with vaping-related lung disease reinforces the importance of my public health recommendation that Connecticut residents consider not using e-cigarettes and vaping products. This recommendation includes not buying vaping products off the street, from another person, or modifying or adding other unregulated substances to these products.”

“The most effective way to combat vaping and its impacts is by preventing use before it begins,” said Commissioner Delphin-Rittmon. “Prevention is key in reducing the number of individuals who vape and ultimately improving overall wellness. We know that use of these products at a young age can lead to long-term use and nicotine dependence. One component of DMHAS’ prevention efforts entails limiting access to tobacco and vaping products to individuals under the age of 21. By educating retailers and conducting compliance checks to ensure the responsible sale of these products, we help to reduce access to teens and young adults during a time that their brains are still developing and they are vulnerable to nicotine and other addictive substances.”

This forum comes as at least 18 deaths have been linked to lung illness and injury caused by vaping products, including a 17-year-old in New York City who died on October 4 and a man between the ages of 30 and 39 in Connecticut whose death was reported October 3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 1,000 illnesses in 48 states connected to vaping. Reports indicate toxic fumes created by the vaping process and counterfeit vaping products containing THC are largely responsible for the reported deaths, though researchers continue to study the illnesses.