'Growing plume of smoke:' Vaping on the rise nationwide among kids, including Montana

Pediatricians see increase of vape health issues
Posted at 12:05 PM, Aug 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-15 14:05:22-04

BOZEMAN — Vaping: it’s a growing concern, nationwide and now locally.

New findings are revealing disturbingly harmful issues with it, especially with the number of kids having vapes.

For many, vaping is the “cool,” novel, high-tech way to smoke and it comes in many flavors.

They come in all shapes and sizes.

Students can carry vapes that fit easily in most backpacks.

Others, like the Juul, are about the size of a flash drive.

They fit in your pocket.

“It’s not a safe alternative and that’s the way it has been marketed," says Rick Gale, state chairman for the Montana Elks Association Drug Awareness Program.

Smoking, in one way or another has been around for decades.

Cigarettes are still a thing, with butts still easily found on the ground.

This newer trend -- “vaping” -- comes in a shinier package.

“It’s a concern nationwide," Gale says. "As I meet with prevention specialists across the country, vaping is always a topic.”

Gale, along with pediatricians at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital, have seen this fad come close to home.

“It’s a public health threat," Gale says. "I mean, this is what we are hearing from the CDC, from the Surgeon General that it is a public health issue that we need to address.”

The puffs of vapor may not be harmless.

Recently, a report from the Minnesota Department of Health found four kids were checked out for pulmonary disease connected to vaping.

Even in the nicotine-free liquid, their findings, along with Gale’s and the hospital’s, found some disturbing ingredients.

“Metal particles are found in vape steam. Vape contains formaldehyde or embalming fluid," Gale says. "The marketing is incredible, what’s being done by the tobacco industry.”

Reports have found younger bodies not able to cope with nicotine addiction.

An additional concern is reported explosions of the devices causing injuries.

And in some cases, smoking other things besides tobacco.

“We’re concerned about the addiction that’s there, concerned about the association with cannabis, as well, with the vaping," Gale says.

According to studies like Minnesota’s, one in five kids vape regularly.

Some even as young as 12 or 13.

A stat Gale hopes will send a message to parents...soon.

“There’s some responsibility there for our parents and there is a lot that we are doing across the state of Montana to educate parents through programs like Parenting Montana," Gale says.

Pediatricians say other hidden dangers include poisoning if the liquid inside vapes like these are swallowed, along with a higher risk of respiratory problems like pneumonia.

Doctors believe vaping caused teens' lung damage in Wisconsin