FDA: Vaping is now epidemic among children, teens

Local pediatric pulmonologist says e-cigs are more dangerous than regular cigarettes

FDA: Vaping is now epidemic among children, teens

TOLEDO (WTOL) - More teens are addicted to nicotine than ever before.

The government says it's because of e-cigarette companies' aggressive marketing campaigns and the fruity flavors.

The FDA says vaping is now an epidemic among children and teens; 1 in 4 teens have tried it.

Two million kids are even vaping marijuana.

The sneaky designs, which can resemble highlighters and USB devices, make them popular among young people.

The kids are hiding it. They can hide it in class. They put it up to their mouth and do it.
Liz Young, Sylvania Community Action Team

"The kids are hiding it. They can hide it in class. They put it up to their mouth and do it," said Liz Young from Sylvania Community Action Team. "They are very hideable - pockets, sweatshirts, just up the sleeve of a shirt is really easy for them to hide it."

"In their socks, in their bags, anywhere, in their binders," said Wasim Khrawesh, a high school senior.

This has some parents concerned.

"I want to make sure I know what to look out for," said parent Inga Holton.

They're vaping in class, in parking lots, their cars and in school bathrooms.

"When you go into the bathroom, like the first thing you smell is like vape juice, like strawberries," said Khrawesh.

A local doctor says those flavors in e-cigarettes trick teens into thinking they're safe.

It give the false sense of safety, meaning if you use the word ‘mangoes,’ ‘tropical,’ ‘fruit punch,’ sounds natural and safe. But unfortunately, other things are added to the nicotine.
Dr. Rahm Reddy, Mercy Health Partners

“It gives the false sense of safety, meaning if you use the word mangoes, tropical, fruit punch, sounds natural and safe. But unfortunately, other things are added to the nicotine,” said Dr. Rahm Reddy, a pediatric pulmonologist for Mercy Health Partners.

E-cigarette manufacturers face a tough November deadline from the FDA to address use by young people, or face having their flavors removed from store shelves.

The FDA is also targeting kids with its own anti-vaping PSA.

Dr. Reddy says e-cigs are more dangerous than regular cigarettes on a young person's developing lungs and brain because they're unregulated.

"In fact, they're worse than the conventional stuff because of the added substances, including the metal particles and other things the manufactures are putting into it to make it more addictive, and cytotoxins that are dangerous to the growing brain," Dr. Reddy said.

"Everybody knows it's not good for you, but when you're constantly being surrounded by it and you smell it and you see it and it's cool to try it, yeah, it definitely makes you tempted to try it," said Khrawesh.

Khrawesh says he knows of freshmen and even eighth graders who vape.

Doctors are also concerned young kids getting addicted to nicotine is a gateway to other addicting drugs such as cocaine.

One of the largest e-cigarette manufacturers, Juul, says its products are intended for adult users and the company does not condone youth consumption.

Copyright 2018 WTOL. All rights reserved.