Officials say Grayson County vaping incident should be a wake up call

LEITCHFIELD, Ky. (WBKO) - An investigation by the Leitchfield Police Department continues into an incident at Grayson County High School on Tuesday that left a dozen students sick.

Through the investigation, police learned all twelve students became sick after using a dab pen.

At 13 News we wanted to take a deeper look into this situation.

First, we wanted to find an answer to the question, "What is the difference between a vape pen and a dab pen?"

Officials say a vape pen contains nicotine, while a dab pen uses THC, a chemical found in marijuana, which makes it illegal.

Those in support of vaping say it is a better alternative than smoking cigarettes, but officials at the Grayson County Health Department say e-cigarettes are not currently approved by the FDA as an aid to quit smoking.

"There's a misconception that vaping and juuling are a safe alternative to tobacco use and that there aren't any health risks and in reality that's a false thought," said Dr. Bryce Meredith, Family and Community Medicine.

Second, we wanted to understand how an incident involving a dab pen could happen inside a school.

Officials say Grayson County bans tobacco products, but are currently working to expand that ban to include all vaping devices.

"The thing is it's tricky to really detect it and so that's kind of our barrier, you know, that's something that parents need to realize, too," said Michele Vincent, School Nurse for Grayson County Schools. "They might not realize their child who is a good student who is getting straight A's could be doing this."

Vincent says in recent years she has seen the popularity of vaping grow in high school and middle school-aged students.

"And I feel like it's just snowballing faster than our state and our schools and our community can prepare for," said Vincent.

A partnership between the Grayson County Health Department and Grayson County Schools to educate students on the dangers of nicotine and vaping already exists, but in light of Tuesday's incident, they say more needs to be done.

"We are in collaboration with the school system to use a curriculum to introduce to the kids that talks about the facts, that talks about the addiction, talks about the health effects and how it can affect their future," said Rebekah Lee, Clinic Health Nurse with the Grayson County Health Department.

Officials say they want parents to know that because children underage can't legally buy vaping products they often turn to the black market and what they buy could be laced with something more serious.

They believe education needs to happen from the top down and parents should learn the many forms of e-cigarettes and have in-depth conversations with their children because there could be consequences.

Police charged two juveniles in connection with the Grayson County High School incident with multiple charges, including trafficking in a controlled substance and wanton endangerment.

Proponents of vaping say no child should be vaping and if an adult is looking to vape they should buy products from a reputable store.

Those against want the community to seek other forms of help. For more information on quitting smoking, you can visit QuitNowKentucky.com or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or text "QUITKY" to 797979 for help.