COLORADO SPRINGS — 22 people are in the hospital throughout the Midwest with breathing issues linked to vaping. It's still unclear what they were smoking, for how long, or where it came from, but most of the patients are young adults. While none of the hospitalizations are in Colorado, it points to a concerning issue in the Centennial State, which leads the nation in teen vaping according to those with El Paso County Public Health.
A local mother of two young children we spoke with said her fiancee just quit vaping. She said she realizes the day may come where she has to talk to her kids about vaping. "I would definitely sit them down and talk to them about it, and say how it's not good for them," said Melody Snyder.
Two seniors from Palmer High School said they do not vape, but they see it everywhere. "On various occasions I've seen students hiding vape pens in their pockets and in sweatshirts and jackets and things, and when the teachers look away, they take a vape and then hide it," said Matthew Titus, one of the seniors.
Dacia Hudson, the program manager for the Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership of El Paso County Public Health, spoke about some of the consequences of vaping. "Vaping has been linked to a lung condition called popcorn lung, which is the scarring of the soft tissues in the lungs," said Hudson.
She said vaping is particularly dangerous for teenagers. "The industry knows that they need two kids to replace every adult smoker that dies from their product," said Hudson.
A Healthy Kids Colorado Survey from 2017 claimed youth e-cigarette use is two times the national average. "44% of kids in our county have tried an e-cigarette... Kids that start out with a vape, are four times more likely, within the next year, to start using traditional tobacco products," said Hudson. She said starting the conversation with kids about vaping is important.
One of the local vape shops here in Colorado Springs sent us this statement:
"Vaping is intended for adults only, in order to help them quit smoking. We, like a majority of other local vape stores, take every measure possible, to keep vaping products out of the hands of our youth. We work to educate people on the vape law in Colorado that prohibits an adult from distributing vape products to a minor under 18 years of age. We also encourage vape consumers to only buy products from reputable retail shops. "