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Your Healthy Family: Teen vaping epidemic continues to rise

Posted at 8:13 AM, Dec 17, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-09 11:27:37-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – A new study out from the National Institute on Drug Abuse says vaping among teenagers has reached an all-time high.  The study reports more than 37-percent of high school seniors say they’ve vaped. That’s up from just over a quarter of them since last year.

When it comes to teens overall a recent report from the CDC says Colorado teens vape the most in the nation.  We spoke with UCHealth Memorial Central Hospital thoracic surgeon Dr. Crystal Erickson in mid November as part of this year’s Great American Smokeout about the dangers of teens vaping.

Dr. Erickson says, “The national average for the incidents of vaping is about 13 percent.  Colorado high school students reported that 27-percent of them are currently using e-cigarettes which is twice the national average.”

Dr. Erickson adds that the dangers of teens vaping are both short and long term in nature.  “In the short term it’s very similar to traditional cigarette use. It causes respiratory illnesses, bronchitis, asthma exacerbations, and sinus infections.  The other large risk is that nicotine, which is in most products is known to be detrimental to adolescent brain development and it’s permanent damage it impairs cognition.”

Dr. Wilson Compton with the National Institute on Drug Abuse echo’s those concerns, and points out that this latest study also shows kids are vaping more than nicotine.  They are also vaping E-liquid flavors, and marijuana but it’s the flavored products that are especially troublesome.

Dr. Compton says, “Even the items that say they have flavors, if you read the fine print and read what they say it always includes nicotine.  The consumer doesn’t always know that, so they may not be aware that they’re using nicotine when they’re using this product.”

The FDA is threatening to ban all flavored vaping products unless manufacturers can come up with a solid plan to curb youth access and use.

If you have any questions about vaping or how to quit it’s a conversation you should consider having with your doctor.  Here in Colorado you can also can contact the Colorado QuitLine that offers counseling and many other resources for free.

To learn more about UCHealth Memorial’s lung screening program click HERE

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