UT Tyler Office of Marketing and Communications

UT Tyler Examines Teenage Vaping Crisis in East Texas

March 30, 2020

Media Contact: Beverley Golden
Senior Director of Media Relations
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler

The University of Texas at Tyler announced today that the Fisch College of Pharmacy is leading a multi-faceted community outreach program that investigates vaping among East Texas teenagers.

The college, in partnership with UT Health Science Center at Tyler, is connecting with regional independent school districts to provide educational in-services on the health ramifications of nicotine use and vaping.

“As of February, there have been just shy of 3,000 cases of EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping product use Associated Lung Injury), and unfortunately, Texas has had almost 300 cases,” said Dr. Justin Reinert, UT Tyler clinical assistant professor and University project co-lead. “It’s imperative that we address this in a comprehensive and unified effort, which is why we’re so grateful and excited to be partnering with colleagues from the School of Community and Rural Health at UT Health Science Center.”

With initial surveys and educational in-services delivered to participating school districts, Reinert and other program leaders within the college discovered what nicotine products high school students are using. The team currently has reached about 650 high school students in Smith and Van Zandt Counties. Two more school districts in Cherokee and Rains Counties will also participate.

An estimated 27 percent of high school students nationwide are using tobacco of any kind, and nearly 21 percent utilize some type of Electronic Nicotine Delivery System, or ENDS. Reinert said preliminary data shows the rate of use is alarmingly high among East Texas teens, at 41.7 percent, while 77.8 percent are utilizing ENDS.  

“The full results will assist us in targeting an approach in Phase II of our initiative, which is launching a comprehensive adolescent tobacco cessation and reduction program, delivered by our faculty and staff,” he said.

Phase II is planned to launch fall 2020, and program leaders will discuss cessation class enrollment strategies with district leaders.

Reinert said there are still many unknowns about the safety of vaping, e-cigarette and other non-traditional delivery methods of tobacco that warrant additional research. Most studies about the enduring effects of vaping have focused on lung cancer, although additional research could link vaping to other dangers and even other cancer types.

Dose escalation is also a growing concern in the healthcare community. According to Reinert, a cigarette may have anywhere from six to 28 milligrams of tobacco per cigarette, but several cartridges for the other products have upwards of 50 milligrams. In addition, a person may be exposed to a whole pack of cigarettes if one vaping cartridge is used.

For more information, contact Reinert, JReinert@uttyler.edu.

A member of the prestigious UT System, The University of Texas at Tyler focuses on student success and innovative research in the more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered to nearly 10,000 students. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News and World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.