ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – Health officials say the number of people diagnosed with severe lung illnesses tied to vaping is growing. There are now nine cases in Colorado, four of them are in Denver County.
The rest of the cases were diagnosed in Boulder, Arapahoe, Jefferson and Weld Counties. Nationwide, the number of people killed from vaping-related illnesses has grown to 17.
On Monday, Denver became the latest city to try and curb vaping use among teens. Mayor Michael Hancock signed an ordinance raising the age to buy tobacco products to 21.
Arvada is also doing its part to curb teen vaping use by focusing on parents. The Arvada Police Department held a Parents Academy on Wednesday night, giving adults an opportunity to have all their questions answered. Jennifer Balek was among those who took advantage.
“I have two teenage daughters, 15 and 16, any information that I can get that will help me know what they are up to, I thought why not,” she said
The academy covers a range of issues and different trends impacting teens. School resource officer Bradley Gagnon says vaping was at the top of that list.
“We are getting kids every day in the schools vaping in the classroom bathroom, lunch it doesn’t matter where, they are finding ways to vape,” he said.
Gagon helped organize the event as an opportunity share advice with parents.
“It’s all stuff we have seen before or kids have told us or other parents have shared with us,” he said
Gagnon built a makeshift bedroom to serve as a tool for parents to see which red flags they catch and which ones might slip by.
Misti Wenger came with her sister for support but also as an aunt.
“It’s just really important that we know what’s going on with them and all these new tricks and hiding places it’s insane,” she said after touring the mobile bedrooms.
While knowing what to look for is one part of the academy, Gagnon says knowing who to turn to for help is another. Having access to resources and accurate information is key for parents.
“The most important thing we can take away is education and knowledge, not only vaping but marijuana and alcohol, how they can talk with their kids, what it looks like, that’s what we hope parents walk away with tonight,” he said.
For Balek and other parents in attendance, the more information the better.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s important. I think its great that the police department went through the trouble of setting this up for parents,” Balek said.