Teens at high risk of vaping addiction


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The most recent report from the South Dakota Department of Health shows 13 current cases of vaping associated lung illnesses.

When talking about teens and vaping, doctors say impulse plays a big role. Instead of considering the long term effects, doctors say teens are living in the present. And while trying new things can be good, it can also lead to trying new substances — like vaping.

“We think that it only takes one episode of vaping to get this severe pulmonary episode that we’re seeing in patients that are dying and having lifelong problems. And so you take a teenager who makes an impulsive decision with one use, that’s pretty scary,” Dr. Jennifer Haggar said.

Haggar says teens are more likely to get addicted to vaping than adults due to their developing brain, stating that it’s the nicotine inside these products keeping so many coming back for more.

“When you put a substance in at the time when you’re developing the part of the brain that they are developing, it can fast wire addiction,” Haggar said.

New government research shows e-cigarette giant Juul is the top selling brand among high schoolers who use e-cigs, but in an effort to halt underage use the company banned all flavors other than tobacco and menthol. But is banning vaping altogether the right move?

“We had reduced tobacco use in adolescence and now it has skyrocketed. And if we make vaping unavailable, which it’s dangerous and that might be the right answer, but those kids may choose to go to cigarettes and that’s not a better alternative,” Haggar said.

Haggar says when nicotine hits the brain it releases chemicals that give off a euphoria feeling, and over time your brain begins to crave more. And as people continue to use, long term damage could be occurring.

“The lungs are a very quick highway to our bloodstream which is a very quick highway to our brain, and so anything that goes into the lungs, we have to worry about what it can do to the body,” Haggar said.

She says avoiding first use could be one way to begin ending the vaping epidemic. While more research needs to be done — Haggar says one thing is for sure: we know it’s bad for both teens and adults.

She says right now the best things parents can do is have open discussions with their kids about vaping, in addition to urging people to avoid first use.

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