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Increase of kids needing treatment for vaping damage of lungs

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has seen a steady increase of youth needing medical care for lung injuries caused by e-cigarettes.

“At Vanderbilt, we have had teenagers who have needed life support, because of vaping,” said Jacob Kaslow, Assistant professor of Pediatric Pulmonology. “These teens are these lifelong, hooked, nicotine addicts.”

Kaslow sees through the haze that has blinded some youth to the dangers of vaping.

“This has really been pushed by big tobacco. You know, they’re the ones who own most of the big e-cigarette companies. And so this is just a way of finding a new target audience.”

Undoing decades of work educating kids about the dangers of smoking, he said.

“These are devices that have 3 to 5% nicotine, whereas a traditional cigarette has 1%.”

Kaslow continued, “Some people said, ‘I actually tried cigarettes to get off of my e-cigarette, because I was just so addicted to it.’”

The habit became trendy for youth in 2019, according to Kaslow.

“I mean, they switched their flavor from Creme Brulee to cream because young kids don’t know what Creme Brulee is.”

Kaslow treats a steady stream of adolescents with the youngest just 12.

“These are kids coming in with cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, some fatigue, a lot of nausea, vomiting.”

He showed News 2 x-ray scans comparing a person’s lung who doesn’t vape with a person’s lung who does vape.

Early treatment can help reverse damage done.

“By far and away, the number one thing that gets every single one of them better, is stopping,” said Kaslow. “If you can stop the exposure, the lungs are very good at healing themselves.”

However, the long-term effects of vaping are still a mystery.

“What we don’t know is how each one of the brands, when you heat them up, what chemical was produced, and then how those interact with the lungs because nobody’s inhaled these chemicals before,” Kaslow explained.

He then emphasized, “What this is not is a cleaner way to inhale anything.”

Alex Denis/WKRN

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