Panel at Wethersfield High School question e-cigarette safety

WETHERSFIELD -- The speakers at a panel discussion Thursday have issued a clear message: e-cigarettes are dangerous.

Doctors, school officials and members of law enforcement discussed everything pertaining to e-cigarette usage or vaping.

Organizers feel this discussion is pertinent especially after a report from the U.S. surgeon general claiming vaping by high school students has increased by 900 percent from 2011-2015.

“It’s important to talk to their kids, to let them know about the dangers of these cigarettes. To monitor their activity and know how their friends are and certainly just to let them know that e-cigarettes can have a negative impact on their health,” said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, commissioner of DMHAS.

Parents are right to be concerned.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, engineering and medicine, a study which examined more than 800 peer-reviewed studies found, “there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of transitioning to smoking conventional cigarettes.”

Andrew O’bright is part of the Smoke-free Alternatives Trades Association, a group that advocates for vape shops.

Their concerned potential legislation could harm small business. He too agrees that minors shouldn’t be using e-cigarettes but worries that the information given at the presentation could me misleading and may gear kids to think vaping is worse than smoking.

“Well maybe I'd rather have my parents smoke than vape because they think hearing some of the things that might happen here tonight that they don't know what the benefits could be,” said O’bright.

A point supported in the study which says while e-cigarettes have health risks, they are far less harmful than cigarettes.