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In wake of scary incident at New Rochelle High School, expert offers advice how to keep kids who vape safe

Expert offers parents advice about vape safety
Expert offers parents advice about vape safety 02:19

NEW YORK -- A terrifying near-death experience with a vape pen in Westchester County is raising more concerns about the dangers of vaping among teenagers.

CBS2 spoke with an expert, who explained how parents can keep their kids safe.

The ominous scene at New Rochelle High School on Monday sent chills through parents across the area.

"It's terrifying. I'm so grateful this didn't end in the death of a child. Unbelievable," Mary Monzon said.

A student reportedly using a marijuana vape pen collapsed suddenly. Police believe the THC may have been laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Nurses quickly delivered the antidote Narcan and saved the student's life.

Now, many parents are questioning how the deadly street drug got inside a vaping cartridge, when most are child proof and can't be reopened once sealed.

"My guess is why would you add fentanyl or anything else other than to give the impression of a high and lowering the amount of real THC you have in the product," said Arnaud Dumas de Rauly, CEO of The Blinc Group.

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De Rauly is chairman of the the organization that sets safety standards for vaping. He says 95% of the current vaping market is illicit.

"A lot of these players from the illicit market are making it in their garage and not respecting the chain of custody with the product, so it can be contaminated with lead, or anything in the environment," de Rauly said.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, 14% -- or 2.5 million -- of kids report vaping tobacco or marijuana regularly, and some start as early as 10 years old.

"As hard as it is for some parents to stomach the idea of helping their kids do something they don't want them to do, that's the advice you're giving?" CBS2's Jessica Moore asked.

"Yes, exactly. If you're a parent, ask your kids to go buy from the legal market," de Rauly said. "Go into a legal dispensary because you know the product has been tested."

Police in New Rochelle are still investigating the origin of the tainted vape pen and the girl who smoked it is recovering. De Rauly said he hopes parents will take his perhaps unpopular advice before another child vapes something that could kill them.

According to the state Department of Health, fentanyl accounted for 78% of overdose deaths in 2022. 

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