SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Concerns have surfaced about how to regulate what is inside vape pens.
On Wednesday, 17-year-old Caleb Kennedy was charged with a felony DUI in the death of a Pacolet man. Arrest warrants revealed that he had marijuana in his system at the time of the crash. Law enforcement said he told them he used a vape pen before getting behind the wheel.
Now, officials are concerned about what is out there.
According to a drug prevention agency, a recent survey showed an alarmingly high amount of middle school and high school kids reported using vapes. Often times, those same kids are receiving the devices from friends with little knowledge on what it actually contains.
Under current South Carolina law, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess a tobacco product or alternative nicotine product.
“Of course, everybody has to be at least 18 years old before they vape anything,” said Barry Barnette, Spartanburg County solicitor.
Yet, a recent survey conducted by the Hazel Pittman Center shows a significant amount of minors are using them.
“The majority of ninth through twelfth grade students reported that they vaped within the past 30 days and that number was alarming,” said Melody Reid, director of Prevention Services at the Hazel Pittman Center.
According to county officials, some recent reports have shown vapes have been found laced with substances other than what they are typically known to contain.
“They are lacing them with different substances,” said Barnette. “There’s all kind of marijuana, Delta-8, Delta-9, Delta-10 and other ones that we don’t even know about. They are also lacing them with other drugs like Xanax, even up to fentanyl.”
7NEWS spoke with several law enforcement agencies in the Upstate Thursday who said, often times, it’s challenging to regulate the vapes, especially if the people using them are of age.
“The problem with the vape pen is that it’s not regulated by any agency as far as we know,” said Barnette.
Which is raising concerns regarding what each device contains.
“Those viles could contain anything in them and when they are giving those, we call it E-juices, depending on what’s in there, you never know how potent it is,” said Reid.
“The scary thing is the effects we are seeing on them, and the deaths being caused by them,” Barnette said.
The Hazel Pittman Center said due to the newness of the devices, there is little known knowledge on the long-term effects.
“These devices are still very new and so many of them have long-term health consequences of their use that is still not known,” said Reid.
The drug prevention center is recommending parents to have conversations with their kids. They advise you to make sure your family is aware of what is out there and understand the outcomes that can arise from just one use of the devices.
For more information, you can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).