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Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

On a typical day at East Shore Middle School in Milford, the library is where students spend time using the computers, working on projects and checking out books.

But on a recent Monday morning, about a dozen students sat at tables, each with a virtual reality headset strapped onto their faces and a controller in one hand. Instead of seeing each other, Tino Pavlat and his friends interacted with people at a virtual high school and played Space Cats, a shooter minigame.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Forty-seven people have died in recent months from vaping-related illnesses, and there’s rising concern around the country about addiction levels among young people.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Vaping devices will be part of a drug takeback event this weekend for the first time in the state. 

It all started at the mall when a friend offered her a puff from a JUUL e-cigarette.

"It was kind of peer pressure," says Beth, a Denver-area 15-year-old who started vaping in middle school. "Then I started inhaling it," she says. "I suddenly was, like, wow, I really think that I need this — even though I don't."

Atascadero High School Hilltop News / Facebook

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban vaping products that are concealed as everyday items like smart watches, backpacks and phone cases. Blumenthal said these products are aimed at teenagers who are trying to "conceal and camouflage their addiction" from their teachers and parents.

Vaping 360 / Creative Commons

Before electronic cigarettes hit the U.S. market about 10 years ago, Connecticut was making progress in decreasing nicotine use among young people.

About one in four teens were smoking cigarettes in 2000, but by 2017, that dropped to only 3.5% of school-aged students statewide, according to state reports.

The link between vaping and severe lung problems is getting a lot of attention.

But scientists say they're also worried about vaping's effect on teenage brains.

"Unfortunately, the brain problems and challenges may be things that we see later on down the road," says Nii Addy, associate professor of psychiatry and cellular and molecular physiology at Yale School of Medicine.

Vaping306 / Creative Commons

A Connecticut resident has died from lung illness related to vaping, state officials announced Thursday. It’s the first fatality of its kind in the state and among a growing number of people who are dying in a nationwide outbreak of cases.

The patient was between 30 and 39 years old and died last week while being hospitalized for multiple medical conditions, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

TBEC Review / Wikimedia Commons

Doctors and public health officials are still trying to figure out the cause behind more than 800 lung injuries related to vaping that have been reported in the U.S. in recent months.

At the same time, there is a longer-term public health crisis as more and more young people have become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarette use -- despite decades of declining traditional cigarette use among teens. 

This hour, we talk about these two public health crises. Do you vape nicotine products like Juul, or maybe use THC cartridges or vape pens from a dispensary? Has the current outbreak in lung injuries changed your vaping habits?

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

 

Gov. Ned Lamont held a private meeting at his residence in Hartford Wednesday with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss policy and plans around transportation, cybersecurity, economic ventures, marijuana regulation and more.

High up on the list of concerns shared by the two governors is the nationwide outbreak of serious lung illnesses that may be related to vaping.

Vaping360 / Creative Commons


The number of people becoming ill with lung injuries possibly linked to vaping continues to climb as states like Connecticut report more hospitalizations.

Two more cases of serious lung illness have been reported in the state, bringing the total to 13 people. That’s according to the Department of Public Health. That news follows an increase in cases nationwide.

Updated on Sept. 27 at 7:06 p.m. ET to reflect the latest information from federal agencies

An outbreak of severe lung disease among users of electronic cigarettes continues to spread to new patients and states.

Vaping360 / Creative Commons

Connecticut’s commissioner of public health is now urging consumers not to use any e-cigarette or vaping products, as a mystery illness linked to vaping continues to spread.

Renée Coleman-Mitchell said her department has learned of six more patients hospitalized for severe lung disease, bringing the total number of potentially vaping-related cases in the state to 11. 

Vaping360 / Creative Commons

Three more Connecticut residents were hospitalized for severe lung disease that is possibly related to vaping.

The announcement Friday by the state Department of Public Health brings the total number of cases to five people. State officials are working with federal agencies including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate a surge of severe respiratory illnesses across the country.

Nicholas King/SmokeTastic / Creative Commons

State officials are investigating two cases of severe respiratory symptoms that health experts say may be related to vaping or e-cigarette use.

The Department of Public Health said in a statement Wednesday that two Connecticut residents have been hospitalized with respiratory issues including shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting and diarrhea.

Officials say both patients admitted to vaping and e-cigarette use with both nicotine and marijuana products.

There's yet more disturbing news about kids vaping nicotine.

Vaping jumped dramatically again among high school students between 2017 and 2018.

In fact, it was the biggest one-year spike of any kind in the 44 years the Monitoring the Future survey has been tracking substance abuse by young people.

scyther5/iStock / Thinkstock

The use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, has doubled among Connecticut high schoolers in recent years. Between 2015 and 2017, vaping went from seven percent of the high school population, to almost 15 percent.