NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Experts at Thursday's conference at Saint Peter's University Hospital focusing on the dangers of vaping said its unregulated contents can lead to seizures, lung damage and - in 55 cases so far in the U.S. - death.
The effects of vaping are amplified in urban settings such as New Brunswick, where Gabriel Chain, a pediatric resident physician at the hospital, said he would expect to see a higher prevalence of use.
"And when you pick up the vaping (in urban areas) and you have the associated health injuries, you're less likely to be able to access health care," Chain said. "And so, you're trapped on all sides. You don't get the best education about the products. When you take them, you can't access health care to try to help yourself. It's a trap."
It was just one of the harsh realities revealed at "Vaping and Concentrates: What You Need To Know," a free community education program that attempted to cut through the haze of misinformation - which is sometimes as thick as the vape smoke, itself.
The program attracted about 90 people who listened to the causes and effects of vaping addiction as told by Chain and Nicki Francis, coordinator of professional development at the Wellspring Center for Prevention and a member of the hospital's Opioid Task Force.
Some statistics seemed to startle the audience.
About one-third of all high school students in New Jersey have tried vaping and the average age of a first-time user in New Jersey is 9.
Middle and high school students, who often believe the fluid contains only water and flavoring, are becoming addicted to nicotine. Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
One of the big questions that was revisited during the program was: How are children getting ahold of e-cigs, vape pens, tank systems, electronic nicotine delivery systems or whatever name you know them by.
For one, she said kids tend to find out which corner shops are lax in checking identifications. So, getting a Juul is just a matter of having enough money to plunk down.
Beyond that, she said that they don't need a neighborhood bodega to get their hands on a mod.
"So, the holidays are over," she said. "Lots of kids just got that Visa gift card. And so for a lot of adults, we don't realize that online, those are credit cards. And, all they have to is go onto one of these sites. They don't even have to figure out the math. They can just go on and order it and things are being delivered right to their homes without lots of parents knowing."
In New Jersey, where the legal age to purchase vapes is 21 but you can legally possess it at 18, lawmakers are trying to get ahead of a growing health crisis.
Flavored vaping products, which are popular among young users, will soon be banned in New Jersey.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed a bill into law prohibiting flavors of e-cigarettes in New Jersey.
Murphy's office said it is the nation's first permanent flavor ban.
“As governor, I am first and foremost charged with protecting the health and safety of our people,” Murphy said in a statement released earlier this week. “Research shows that flavored electronic smoking devices and products, such as mint, candy, fruit, and chocolate, are extremely appealing, especially to children."
Those at Thursday's program, though, questioned if the ban will even slow down vaping use.
As Chain demonstrated, vaping seems to be everywhere.
"It's right here in our hospital," he said. "Everybody who's working in here knows a few weeks ago we had a fire. And that's because someone's vape exploded on the second floor. And if you go up to the second floor, you'll see a big, nice, black hole in the carpet and a visit to the ER. These things are dangerous."