Local doctors worry about teens and vaping

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment shows nearly 35% of high school students have tried E-Cigarettes and more than one in ten of them vape on a regular basis. Vaping is illegal under the age of 18.

Wichita pediatrician, Dr. Amy Seery is worried. She’s seeing more and more cases of teens who vape.

“I'm having more teenagers who are finally being open about their usage of it, or verifying their friends are using it, and they're taking the occasional puff as well" said Seery.

The Centers for Disease Control is calling it an Epidemic, teeens who are using E-Cigarettes. The devices are battery powered and deliver nicotine through a liquid which turns into an aerosol. They come in fruit flavors which is very attractive to teens. 

“It was just like flavored smoke,” said 17 year-old Savannah Shaw. “So it wasn't really anything. It didn't taste like anything but like, blueberries."

Many teens are using what’s called a Juul. It looks like a USB drive. Juul claims some of its pods have roughly as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.

"I am terrified for this generation and the choices that they're making without being fully informed," said Seery.

Hunter Hughes graduated from high school last year. He says he was trying to quit smoking and took up vaping instead, thinking it was safe.

"I started noticing I was getting a really raspy cough, a raspy voice,” said Hughes. “It was getting even more difficult to breathe. It was just as bad as when I was smoking cigarettes."

He was a singer and a wrestler. He says vaping affected his performance.

"Significant differences to my performance,” said Hughes. “ You know, I wouldn't be able to wrestle as long. I'd get tired a lot faster. With singing I would have to breathe a lot more because, you know, my lungs just felt very, uh, heavy and strained."

Kansas if one of seven states that is reporting a vaping related death. Health leaders report at least 450 cases of vaping related lung illnesses in 33 states.

"Some of these individuals are getting severe pneumonitis, which is a very rapid debilitating inflammation of the lungs and can be life threatening," said Seery.