Texoma student on anti-vaping crusade - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Texoma student on anti-vaping crusade

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Makenna Dancer brings her anti-vaping message to Van Alstyne Middle School students. (KTEN) Makenna Dancer brings her anti-vaping message to Van Alstyne Middle School students. (KTEN)

VAN ALSTYNE, Texas -- The federal government is working to stop young people who are vaping, but a Grayson County high school student is already steps ahead of them.

"More measures need to be taken to make sure it can't get into the hands of young kids," said Makenna Dancer, a junior at Van Alstyne High School. "This is such a specific and important time to put into kids' minds of, 'Hey, vaping isn't cool and I shouldn't do it.'"

Makenna wants her school district to stay vape-free. The high school junior created an informative video about why vaping is bad news.

"I wanted to have the middle school students sign a pledge saying, 'Hey we aren't going to vape,' and they would get a little pen as a reminder not to vape once they have signed this pledge," she explained. There's even a website, VapeFreeVA.com,  for students to watch the video and sign the pledge.

Students at Van Alstyne Middle School were signing pledges left and right.

"Being one of our former students who was at the middle school and is now at the high school, I think that's really impactful for our kids to hear from one of our current kids about the effects of vaping ... to know that it can impact the rest of their lives if they choose to do it at an early age," Principal Dr. Kelly Moore said.

The problem is, so much remains unknown about vaping and the injuries it has caused.

"I think a lot of people might know it's bad, but they might not necessarily know why," Makenna said.

About 2,000 cases have been reported of e-cigarette or vaping product use associated with lung injuries. In some cases, lives have been lost.

The Centers for Disease Control refers to it as "e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury," or EVALI.

"We really can't tell that this is based on a disease that someone may have pre-existing, or if it's based on an injury because of this product," Massey said. "We are leaning more toward injury at this time."

Dr. Joel Massey with the Texas Department of State Health Services said the vaping crisis is on their radar.

"Here in Texas, we've seen 165 cases of EVALI," Massey said.

The instances increase dramatically with young people, quadrupling among middle and high school students in Texas from 2012 to 2018.

But in this untested field, there remain many unknowns.

"Right now we are going with the assumption that this is most likely to be caused by products that contain THC," Massey said. "We really need definitive data, and so we need to collect more of it."

Late last week, the CDC had a breakthrough discovery. They say vitamin e acetate may be causing the lung injuries. It's been found as a filler ingredient in some vaping products.

We often ingest the chemical as a vitamin supplement or in skin creams, but the CDC says it should not be inhaled because it has a negative impact on functioning lungs.

"These kinds of things, they take time, and we would love to have the answers sooner," Massey said.

Makenna Dancer isn't worried about time. She just wants everyone to know what they could be doing to their bodies.

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