Jesse Palmer, News Presenter (JP): We turn now to the vaping crisis sweeping the country, the latest shocking statistics: 6.2 million US teens use tobacco and one third of all high schoolers vape. Those figures are alarming, not just to parents but [to] doctors and health officials as the number of young people getting seriously sick and even dying from e-cigarettes are suddenly skyrocketing. Senior correspondent Alicia Corals asked Dr. Oz to weigh in on the toll that vaping is taking on our nation.
Dr. Mehmet Oz (MO): The single largest adolescent health crisis of this nation is vaping.
Chance Ammirata, Vaping Victim: My chest felt like it was collapsing and tightening up and I couldn’t breathe.
Kerri Chomsky, Vaping Victim: I genuinely thought that I was going to die.
Patrick DeGrave, Vaping Victim: These vapes can cost you your life.
Alicia Corals, Senior correspondent (AC): To date nearly 50 deaths and more than 2,000 illnesses are being attributed to vaping. One of the latest conditions has an especially ominous name: ‘Popcorn Lung’.
MO: ‘Popcorn lung’ is something initially described in plants that made popcorn bags, but that same impact on your lungs is being seen now with vaping-like products and other chemical irritants, which is why we are so nervous about taking a substance, and you are not sure what it is, heating it to 500 degrees, pulling it into your lungs and make it blow away in one puff.
AC: In fact, one seventeen-year-old victim damaged his lungs so badly from vaping that he had to have a double lung transplant.
MO: …and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other young people whose lungs will never be the same again.
AC: The American Medical Association has called for a ban on all e-cigarettes, including vaping devices but Dr. Oz says more needs to be done.
MO: You need stronger regulation, the big industry players stepping up and really controlling what’s going on and unfortunately for now, I would ban vaping.
AC: The irony for Dr. Oz: he believes vaping can actually help hardcore smokers quit smoking. He says it’s the illegal counterfeit products on the market that are harmful. In fact, CDC officials say more than half of US vapers with life-threatening lung illnesses used a brand of counterfeit THC e-cigarettes called ‘Dank Vapes’. You hit on a point that a lot of my friends who still vape make, they say: “listen, the fraudulent stuff is what’s bad.”
MO: The products that are legally being sold (people put their name on these products) are doing their best to make sure they are not harmful. However, you can’t tell if it’s fraudulent or not. I want a temporary moratorium to shut out the bad boys.
AC: The other problem? Both the legitimate vaping industry and counterfeiters are actually attracting teens to tobacco. In fact, statistics show that since last year, nearly a million high schoolers and more than 600,000 middle schoolers have started smoking.
MO: The reason these vaping companies go after teens is because the teen brain is not quite mature but once they think they have to be on a vape to get through the day, they are addicted. When you are making flavors of vapes that are appealing to young people, when one third of teens are saying that they have vaped, it’s the opposite of what we want: we want less people smoking not more.
AC: Dr. Oz also wants better warning labels on vaping products to let the public know vaping is not as safe as it once seemed.
MO: Why are there no clear warning signs that indicate the risks you’re taking? It’s a big black box of secrecy.
JP: And Alicia Corals joins me now in the studio, and wow Alicia, this really is a serious problem.
AC: Jesse, it is a horrible epidemic and believe it or not, vaping illness has gotten so bad, an entire medical category has been created because of it, it’s called ‘EVALI’ and it stands for ‘E-cigarette or Vaping Associated Lung Injury’.
JP: Yeah thanks Alicia, definitely a cautionary tale to pay attention to here, and by the way, the Dr. Oz show is currently in its eleventh season so make sure you check your local listings.