Robot Brings Bad News to Fans of Vaping Craze

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Bob Hallinan

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        Think your teen is safe vaping? You might want to think again. Researchers and physicians are sounding the alarm that vaping can have serious consequences.

         “What we have seen with our research is that it affects your ability to clear mucus, which can lead to chronic bronchitis and inflammation similar to smoking tobacco,” said Matthias Salathe, MD, Chair of Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical School and clinical service chief of internal medicine at The University of Kansas Health System.

Salathe’s team is researching the effects of vaping using a “vaping robot,” that pulls vapor from electronic cigarettes across human lung cells. A pulmonologist, Salathe sees the issues of lung damage, both long-term and short-term, on the horizon for teens and others who vape. “The type of nicotine that’s used is more addictive than with cigarettes, and there may be consequences related to certain flavors as well.”

An additional issue is that it’s easy to add liquid to the vaping pods, and young people may be unknowingly vaping drugs someone else added. Last month teenagers in Wisconsin and Illinois were hospitalized with acute lung damage after vaping.

Dr. Stephen Thornton, medical director of The University of Kansas Health System Poison Control Center, has noticed an uptick in patients with sudden seizures potentially linked to vaping. He says they are starting to see an increase in these severe effects that they don't see it in things like smoking.

"We've seen individuals who have had seizures after starting vaping where, in the end, there is no other explanation then them starting vaping," Thornton said. "We are seeing all of these weird things that we don't normally see with cigarettes, because of the high concentration and the ability to deliver very potently."

Video includes interviews with both Dr. Salathe and Dr. Thornton. It also includes b-roll of the “vaping robot.”