Teen vaping concerns rise along with reports of lung damage

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Health officials say they are seeing an increase in vaping among a younger teen demographic, and with that comes rising concerns about their health after reports of lung damage.

Vaping is seen as an alternative to smoking, but experts say the health consequences are just as serious. Minnesota is the latest of several states to report patients with severe lung damage. Four cases have been reported in Minnesota, up to 12 have been reported in Wisconsin, and five have been reported in Illinois.

Experts say we don't yet know the effects of vaping on our health, but they are starting to see otherwise healthy young people develop severe respiratory problems. Some officials are concerned with kids going back to school we may soon see many more cases.

To many, vaping is a relaxing form of recreation and at vaping lounges like Vape-312 on the Near West Side, business is good.

"We've grown every year since we've been open," said Tony Mendoza of Vape-312.

You have to be 21 or older to smoke there, but health officials said there's been a big increase in smoking among school-aged kids.

"Teens that would never pick up traditional cigarette have started to use these vaping devices," said Katie Greeley, Lurie Children's Hospital.

And according to the state, it's causing major health issues. The Illinois Department of Public Health said they have five confirmed cases and six under investigation for severe respiratory problems apparently caused by vaping.

"This is a big cause for concern," said Joel Africk, Respiratory Health Association. "They're seeing people with coughing and respiratory distress."

Experts also said because many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, they are seeing more young people developing a nicotine addiction.

Some addiction specialists said they are also concerned about what will happen in January after marijuana becomes legal in the state. They said they expect some e-cigarette users to switch from nicotine to pot.
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