Teen vaping dangers: Hamilton County doctors, health officials warn parents of risks

Erlanger physicians and Hamilton County Health Department representatives are discussing the dangers of teen vaping Monday afternoon.

In this Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 file photo, a salesman at a vape shop exhales while using an e-cigarette in Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Teen vaping is a growing crisis, around the country and here at home, according to Erlanger doctors and representatives from the Hamilton County Health Department at a news conference Monday afternoon.

More than 800 people have been hospitalized in the U.S. because of vaping- that's according to specialists at Erlanger's Children’s Hospital who are working to combat the smoking craze.

Early Monday afternoon, doctors and health officials spoke out about the dangers of vaping and what we're seeing nationally and locally.

A spokesperson with the Hamilton County Health Department said e-cigarettes are marketed as a vapor, when they're actually an aerosol, so anyone who uses a vape product is taking a risk.

Officials said that risk is being treated at our own Erlanger Children's Hospital.

Disguised with a colorful container and a fun name, health officials said e-cigarettes have caused the death of 14 people and attracts folks by being the “healthier” option. One person has died from a vaping-related illness in Georgia.

Paula Collier with the Hamilton County Health Department said e-cigarettes are filled with harmful chemicals.

“The particles in e-cigarettes are heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead,” said Collier.

She said there’s also formaldehyde and nicotine for the addiction.

Matthew Kreth is a pulmonary pediatrician at Erlanger, who said they treated someone at the Children’s Hospital for a vaping illness.

“The lungs basically start attacking those micro fine particles everywhere. You get a hyper immune response to that which leads to respiratory failure,” said Kreth.

Kreth said your lungs are not designed to inhale anything other than normal air.

“On regular use of vaping, and cigarettes that it does affect their memory, their concentration, their impulse control, they're running ability,” said Dr. John Heise.

However, folks aren't just using an e-cigarette regularly. Health officials said they're smoking them around the clock and 3/4ths of the 800 cases have actually been with THC infused liquid nicotine, which they said is creating another addiction.

"So we're really dealing with two things with one product now they're combining them and how we are going to deal with that, it just takes a village,” said Heise.

Heise said they need a village of friends, physicians and role models at home.

“We've talked to some middle schoolers that didn't know they could choose not to smoke because there were no adult in their life that didn't smoke,” said Collier.

Officials said a person’s brain doesn't mature until their 25 years old, so they urge parents to watch out for their kids.

If you're a parent that wants to help their child stop vaping, you can refer them to a new clinic at Erlanger called Smoke Be Gone.

Doctors will check your child's current respiratory state and see what they're smoking and why to help them break the habit.

Watch our livestream of the news conference below (NOTE: There are technical difficulties in the stream)

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Read more: What we know (and don't) about Juul, teen vaping and illness

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