Teens vaping could lead to addiction later in life

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. New data shows, in the last month one in four kids in 11th grade admitted to vaping.

One of the slides Griffiths showed of healthy versus vaping lungs (Source: WVLT)

Many teens don't know the dangers lurking in each vaping device.

"Three quarters of kids are getting e-cigarettes from friends," said Dr. Anne Griffiths, a pediatric pulmonologist expert from Children's Minnesota.

Griffiths spends a lot of time with children and teens who vape.

"So the sense among the teens is that vaping is safer. And what we're seeing is that's not likely the case," Griffiths explained.

Vaping is the leading cause that makes children's lungs look different from healthy ones. Griffiths lectured to parents, nurses and doctors at East Tennessee Children's Hospital about vape education on Tuesday.

Griffiths said some teens are turning to nicotine and THC vape products to self-medicate their anxiety or depression.

"So there's some discussion that early use of these may drive an addiction highway and make that highway extra lanes compared to an adult brain," explained Griffiths, "And so that if you start vaping younger you may have more problems with addiction in general as an adult."

Kids are stressed about school or sports and turning to vaping.

"Teens are smart. They're not trying to harm themselves," said Griffiths.

Dr. Griffiths said kids can form an addiction to vaping; one of her patients told her she vaped 80 times a day.

"So I think it's our role to help them see where some of the marketing has been misleading or where some of the products may be harmful," Griffiths explained.

The addiction can make teens more prone to other addictive drugs. For about five years a respiratory therapist at East Tennessee Children's, Connie Meredith, has noticed kids developing two addictions early on.

"They're having to worry about addictions to nicotine and then also to CBD or THC," explained Meredith.

Griffiths wants to educate teens and adults.

"If there's anything that just doesn't make sense and is a piece of plastic in your kid's backpack, ask about it. Because there's a good chance that's something that needs to be discussed further."

Here's a list of resources to help you talk to your child about vaping.

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