Teen hospitalizations come amid national vaping scrutiny

(WKOW) — Doctors suspect vaping sent 8 Wisconsin teens to the hospital in the last month — all while the federal government is closely watching the e-cigarette industry.

“They all have had fairly significant lung damage,” said Dr. Michael Gutzeit with the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. “And all of them have had the common thread of vaping.”

Hospital officials say all children have significant lung damage.

“They are able to go home, off-oxygen, but we don’t know how long they will have issues,” said Dr. Luella Amos.

While doctors say they can’t be certain e-cigarette use was the cause, they strongly suspect it.

“Vaping in teenagers is something that’s causing harm to our kids, and we want that message to be loud and clear,” Dr. Gutzeit said.

In most states, including Wisconsin, you have to be 18 years old to vape. But CDC statistics show vaping sharply on the rise among middle and high school students, from 2.1 million in 2017 to 3.6 million in 2018. The FDA says as many as 80 percent of middle and high school students don’t regularly think that smoking e-cigarettes is harmful.

Those misconceptions were front and center this week in Washington as a teenager testified in front of a congressional committee that a Juul representative told his 9th grade class its e-cigarettes were “totally safe.”

“It was a sigh of relief because now they were able to vape without any concern,” testified teenager Caleb Mintz.

Juul said it has stopped giving the presentations.

The FDA has a creative plan to hammer the dangers of e-cigarettes home with teens: An ad featuring a street magician turning an e-cigarette into a regular cigarette. The tagline? “It’s not magic. It’s statistics.”

More at WKOW 27 News

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