Summit Meeting Held To Address Rise In Vaping Among Arkansas Youth

Oct 7, 2019

The first of two youth vaping summits organized by the state's Attorney General included medical professionals discussing the dangers of vaping.
Credit David Monteith / KUAR News

The Arkansas Attorney General's office is hosting summit meetings to discuss the rise in vaping by the state's young people. On Monday, over 100 educators, lawmakers, and health professionals met at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, to hear the latest news on vaping.

Paragould School Superintendent Debbie Smith said having current facts from some of the state's leading medical professionals will help when talking to teens and parents.

"We're seeing what everyone else is seeing, just an increase in the number of students who are vaping and we're very concerned about their health," Smith said in an interview. "So I wanted to get more information from a panel of experts just as to what that means for our students and for the future of Arkansas children."

The panelists included Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas of Medical Sciences, who said the lack of regulation or federal testing and approval of vaping products means they are essentially black market goods and likely more dangerous than is suspected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaping has resulted in at least 18 deaths in 15 states and over 1,000 cases of lung injury.

Katherine Donald with the Coalition For A Tobacco Free Arkansas said in between sessions that she hoped to hear possible solutions individual cities could enforce in light of recently passed state legislation.

According to Donald, "Local communities hands have been tied in terms of passing local legislation to address issues such as, perhaps, banning flavored nicotine products in local communities that came through Act 580 that went into effect September 1."

Arkansas's Attorney General Leslie Rutledge organized the event. She announced that "enforcement advisory" letters have been sent to eBay and 100 online retailers threatening legal action for anyone selling the liquid used in e-cigarettes or vaping products to minors in the state.

A second summit is scheduled for Wednesday at Bentonville High School in northwest Arkansas.