MCM Connects: Our Vaping Crisis

On September 16, at 7 p.m., county officials, parents and medical professionals discussed ways of protecting our youth from the vaping epidemic, on MCM Connects: Our Vaping Crisis. The program was live-streamed on and cable channels 19, 21 and 995. If someone you know needs help or would like more information, see our Resources section below.

Watch MCM Connects: Our Vaping Crisis here:

Vaping is on the rise among adolescents and teens. So are seizures, nosebleeds, fever, vomiting, chest pain and shortness of breath, symptoms of severe lung disease. The American Lung Association recently estimated that at least 5,700 kids start to vape every day. It’s an alarming upsurge that is sending lawmakers, doctors, school officials and businesses scrambling for a way to stem the rise.

Experts from across Montgomery County appeared on MCM Connects: Our Vaping Crisis. The program was broadcast on MCM Channels 19, 21 and 995 and live-streamed on The discussion focused on  what parents, schools, law enforcement, small business, and the medical community are up against and what this community can do to help stop this rapidly growing problem.

Science and medicine agree that the link between vaping and lung disease is strong, but they have not yet confirmed the connection as the cause. However, the evidence is mounting.

Health officials have found lung complications in a group of over 380 teens and adults in 36 states — all of whom had used the e-devices within three months. The Maryland Department of Health recently reported 15 cases of the illness in residents who had vaped. Nationwide, at least six people have died following lung illness. Michigan recently became the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

Samples tested by the states and/or the Food and Drug Administration are indicating Vitamin E as a common ingredient in many of the offending vapes. Vitamin E is dangerous when inhaled.

Locally, last spring, three Winston Churchill High School students were hospitalized after vaping on school grounds. The rise in vaping among teens is meteoric. In fact, the CDC reports that last year teen use of e-cigarettes increased by 78 percent.

Montgomery County Council has already put some laws in place to slow the vaping trend, and more are being written. In 2015, the county council prohibited vape and e-cigarette use in certain public places and the state raised the legal age for buying them to 21. Currently, Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz and Craig Rice have introduced new legislation to increase the distance vape sellers must maintain from schools. The councilmembers introduced the legislation Tuesday, September 17 to the Council, a public hearing is scheduled for November 5.

The tobacco industry claims vaping because of the nicotine most products contain. The industry is pushing Congress to raise the national age limit to 21 as well. Lawmakers and others call the push disingenuous and accuse the industry of marketing harmful products to minors, selling the products in flavors, like “Bubblegum” and “Cotton Candy.”

Despite these efforts, more challenges lie ahead. The devices and their cartridges, or pods, are available for sale online, where anyone can find a way to purchase them, no matter their age.


How Vaping Works

Vapes, short for a vaporizer, supercharge the smoking experience. They heat to more than 200 degrees, and atomize dry herbs, e-juice or wax, creating tiny particles that resemble smoke. That aerosol is what vapers inhale.

The cartridges or pods vaporizers use is considered a tobacco product because nicotine is a standard ingredient in all of them. The cartridges come in multiple flavors, including fruit or candy. Because the pods are not regulated by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, the manufacturers are not required to list all the ingredients. However, the U.S. Surgeon General reports that e-juice is known to contain 31 compounds, including metal fragments, vegetable glycerin, sugar alcohol, propylene glycol, the alcohol used in antifreeze, flavorings, and nicotine.

Meet Our Panelists

Shellie Berlin Bressler
Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes (PAVe)

Shellie Berlin Bressler is a concerned parent with Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes (PAVe). Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes, founded by three concerned moms, is a grassroots group that seeks to educate parents about the dangers of e-cigarettes, advocate for the safety of our kids with regards to their widespread use of these products.

Bressler served in various capacities on Capitol Hill for nearly 30 years. Most recently, she was a Senior Professional Staff Member for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she was a part of the Oversight and Investigations team overseeing programs conducted by the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and related agencies.

From 2007-2013, Bressler served as a Senior Professional Staff Member focusing on global health matters and gender equality issues for the Republican staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She was the lead Senate Republican staffer for the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, Reauthorization Act of 2008.[hr]
Philip Corcoran, M.D.
Suburban Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Dr. Philip Corcoran is a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians. He specializes in cardiovascular surgery and thoracic surgery. Dr. Corcoran practices at the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Clinic at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Corcoran completed his fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and his surgery residency at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. He received his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Dr. Corcoran is board certified in surgery and thoracic surgery. He is fluent in English and Spanish.[hr]

Captain Tom Didone
Director Traffic Division, Field Services Bureau
Montgomery County Police Department

Captain Tom Didone is the Director of the Field Services Bureau of the Traffic Division of the Montgomery County Police Department.  He oversees the programs desinged to keep everyone safe on area roadways.

Captain Didone has been with the MCPD for 32 years. He was named one of 14 Highway Safety Hero Awards in 2014 for his dedication to advancing highway-safety initiatives.[hr]

Travis Gayles, M.D., PhD
Health Officer

Chief, Public Health Services
Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Travis Gayles is the current Chief, Public Health Services and Health Officer for Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services (MCHHS).

Prior to joining MCHHS, he was the Chief Medical Officer for the District of Columbia Department of Health, where he responsible for all aspects of care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration, and Division Chief for STD-TB Control. He also oversaw the center for clinical research and population-based studies. He completed his BA (Public Policy Studies) from Duke University, PhD (Community Health) and MD from the University of Illinois, UrbanaChampaign.[hr]
Cara Grant
Supervisor, Pre-K-12 Health and Physical Education
Montgomery County Public Schools

Dr. Cara Grant grew up in Montgomery County and is a county resident. She has her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology, masters’ degree in secondary education- curriculum and instruction and doctorate in education leadership with a concentration on curriculum and instruction. She has her teaching certification in health education, physical education, and adapted physical education.

Grant has worked in Montgomery County Public Schools for over 17 years and has served in many roles from health education teacher, physical education teacher, team leader, resource teacher for health and physical education, health education content specialist and as the PreK-12 supervisor for health and physical education.[hr]
John Schachter
Director of State Communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

John Schachter serves as Director of State Communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Schachter develops and implements communications strategies in support of issue advocacy campaigns working with Campaign staff, partners, and state and local coalitions. Schachter has been in the Washington, DC area for more than 25 years and has worked on Capitol Hill, served on and run political campaigns, worked in journalism for Congressional Quarterly, and handled communications for a variety of trade associations including the Business Roundtable and the American Constitution Society.

Schachter is also a political satirist and stand-up comedian who has written for Al Franken at Comedy Central and Saturday Night Live (SNL). His favorite claim to fame is that he came up with the idea for Jesse Jackson to read “Green Eggs and Ham” on SNL as an eulogy to Dr. Seuss.

Meet Our Moderator

Susan Kenedy
County Cable Montgomery

For close to three decades, Susan Kenedy has served County Cable Montgomery as both a producer and liaison to the community. Her service has continually contributed to the County’s transparency through news style reporting on a weekly basis, and through that work she has established herself as an effective storyteller.

Throughout her career Kenedy has won numerous awards, most recently a 2017 NATOA Award and SAAVY Award for her documentary on the heroin epidemic, and a Capital Emmy in 2015 for her short format program that focuses on economic development in the Washington D.C. region.[hr]


General Resources

Information for Parents  (CDC: )

  • You have an important role to play in addressing this public health epidemic.
  • Learn about the different shapes and types of e-cigarettes and the risks of all forms of e-cigarette use for young people at
  • Set a good example by being tobacco-free. If you use tobacco products, it’s never too late to quit. Talk to a healthcare professional about quitting all forms of tobacco product use. For free help, visit smokefree.govExternal or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • Adopt tobacco-free rules, including e-cigarettes, in your home and vehicle.
  • Talk to your child or teen about why e-cigarettes are harmful for them. It’s never too late.
  • Get the Surgeon General’s tip sheet for parents, Talk With Your Teen About E-cigarettes, at Start the conversation early with children about why e-cigarettes, including JUUL, are harmful for them.
  • Let your child know that you want them to stay away from all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, because they are not safe for them. Seek help and get involved.
    • Set up an appointment with your child’s health care provider so that they can hear from a medical professional about the health risks of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
    • Speak with your child’s teacher and school administrator about enforcement of tobacco-free school policies and tobacco prevention curriculum.
    • Encourage your child to learn the facts and get tips for quitting tobacco products at Teen.smokefree.govExternal.

Youth-Focused Resources:



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