Children First: Vaping Crisis

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Vaping among youth is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 3 million middle and high school students admitted they vaped in 2018. While it is illegal to sell tobacco or vaping products to anyone under the age of 21 in California, kids and teens are finding ways to vape, and it is a health concern. As of December 5, 2019, over two thousand cases of lung injuries and 47 deaths associated with vaping were reported to the CDC from across the United States. Among the dead are two people from Kings and Tulare Counties.

ABC30 takes an in-depth look at what some are calling an epidemic. The television special, Children First: Vaping Crisis airs Sunday, December 15, 2019, at 6:30 pm. Action News anchors Margot Kim and Cory James present several stories on why educators, health experts and emergency responders are expressing concern over vaping among youth. Educators with Tulare County Office of Education say vaping devices have been confiscated from 5th graders! ABC30 takes you inside a classroom as a fifth-grade class gets an eye-opening lesson on the dangers of vaping, including how it impacts youth brain development.

Experts say youth across the valley and the U.S. are vaping in plain sight. Some devices look like USB flash drives. Sweatshirts with drawstring vapes are sold on the internet. Some students rig permanent markers to hide their vaping device. More than 15,000 vaping flavors are on the market. Some vaping flavors are in boxes that look like juice, others have cereal, candy and soda flavors appealing to children and teens. A Fresno teenager shares his experience with vaping and how he is now addicted. Clovis Unified shares what they have planned to curb vaping on campus. Visalia Unified is educating parents, teachers and others about what vaping is and what to look for if they suspect their child is vaping. A south valley task force shared there are more than 100 tobacco retailers in Visalia and 33 of those are within walking distance to schools. Children First: Vaping Crisis will also include resources families can access to educate themselves about vaping, how to quit and how to talk to children about the issue.

A recent survey of eleven thousand students in Tulare County found 83% of teenagers believe vapes are safer than cigarettes and pose no harm. 46% of 7th through 12th graders admitted vaping. (Source: Tulare County Office of Education)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, E-cigarette aerosol can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents.

Researchers with the Mayo Clinic found some of the lung illnesses across the country resemble chemical burns. The CDC recently discovered the vitamin e derivative in the lungs of patients hospitalized with vaping-related illnesses. The substance is sometimes used as an additive or thickening agent in vaping products containing THC, the marijuana compound that produces a "high."

Dr. Geetanjali Srivastava is the Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Valley Children's Healthcare. Regarding the risks of vaping, she said, "It causes direct lung injury you're getting high heat into the mouth and you can even burn the oropharynx, the lining of your mouth, as well as your bronchials and that, can cause chronic problems like COPD, maybe some a little bit of bronchial spasm, asthma- wheezing symptoms."


  • Fresno Teen talks about how he started vaping
  • South Valley students getting reality check on dangers of vaping


  • Valley Children's Healthcare
  • Tulare County Office of Education
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • American Lung Association
  • quitSTART app
  • Youth Leadership Institute MYNT Program
  • Tobacco Free California

  • Children First is a year-round effort focusing on challenges and opportunities among our youth in Central California. The program shows how the average person can make a difference in a child's life and highlights local organizations working with children. The Children First campaign includes half-hour programs like "Vaping Crisis", thirty-second public service announcements and special stories on Action News.

    ABC30 thanks its partners below for putting Children First in the Central Valley.

    Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.