La Crosse officials trying to tackle vaping epidemic

La Crosse County Health Department Educator Judi Zabel knows the vaping epidemic all too well.

“I’m very, very concerned about this,” Zabel said.

The trend seems to be neverending, and local high school students are not too happy.

“It’s kinda sad to see that kids have access to it,” Central High School student Kelechi Nduka said.

City officials say one in seven La Crosse County teens have smoked from a vape within the last 30 days.

That’s 14 percent of kids throughout the county.

“I don’t see how people can do that because it’s just not good,” Central High School student Jenna Hutschenreuter said. “And it’s like I don’t see many people doing it.”

So officials are stepping up their game to try and take care of this epidemic.

Zabel is part the Seven C’s Initiative, a coalition that works with schools across seven counties to teach kids on the dangers of vaping.

“We’re working on all the schools to make sure that they’re caught up in that e-cigarettes are part of their tobacco policies,” Zabel said.

One key aspect of vaping they are addressing: nicotine poisoning.

“For the first time ever, we’re talking about addiction and nicotine poisoning,” Zabel said.

Liquid nicotine and e-cigarettes cause the most nicotine poisoning cases.

“Educating kids about what nicotine poisoning is, what it looks like, how to identify it, and that they need to get help if they suspect that one of their friends or somebody they know is suffering from nicotine poisoning,” Zabel said.

Nduka wants to see everyone take notice.

“Maybe seeing other kids raise awareness for it,” Nduka said. “Like just be aware people are doing it when they shouldn’t.”

And the coalition will keep working hard.

“I want people to think our job isn’t over with,” Zabel said.

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