JACKSON, Miss. – Enrich MS, a local nonprofit organization and youth education program, is hosting a Vaping Summit on Wednesday, February 5, 2020, at Jackson Preparatory School in Flowood. The purpose of the summit is to increase awareness and share resources that address the vaping epidemic. The event is free and open to the public.
Nationwide, there have been 2,711 hospitalized cases of vaping-related lung illness reported from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands). Sixty deaths have been reported from 27 states and the District of Columbia.
In Mississippi, there have been 11 cases reported – nine of which were hospitalized – and one death from vaping-related lung illness.
The Vaping Summit will feature discussions with experts in the field such as Thomas Payne, PhD, UMMC Cancer Center and Research Institute; Robert McMillen, PhD, Mississippi State University; Melissa Stephens, DO, William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Mississippi State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, MD; as well as other community leaders.
“Vaping has become a widespread concern that really crosses into the roles and responsibilities of many organizations and agencies This is a great opportunity to meet with other partners in this arena to face this challenge head on,” said Dr. Dobbs.
“I think I speak on behalf of us all when I say that the most alarming part of this epidemic is that it’s starting with our kids. It is absolutely terrifying that more than 25 percent of high schoolers and more than 10 percent of middle schoolers vape regularly,” he said.
Lawmakers, parents, school administrators and students are encouraged to attend this event, and breakout sessions have been designed specifically for these groups.
William Carey College of Osteopathic Medicine and physician volunteers will be speaking to parents about the signs of vaping addiction and its dangers. Dan Edney, MD, is leading a session to bring legislators and community law enforcement together to discuss upcoming legislation and ordinances.
The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi and Enrich MS are providing a student session specifically geared toward middle and high school students. Additionally, Shea Taylor, Northwest Rankin Middle School principal, is leading a school administration and faculty session to discuss how vaping disrupts students’ learning and possible solutions and resources to end the distraction.
Jill Gordon, executive director of Enrich MS, said the organization recently launched a pilot program at Northwest Rankin Middle School on the prevention of vaping.
“I believe the community will greatly benefit from the partnerships fighting this issue every day,” said Gordon. “With this summit, we can all come together, pool our resources and work toward solutions faster.”
The summit is funded by the Mississippi State Department of Health.
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