This month, the CDC reported more than 150 cases of severe lung disease, possibly linked to vaping, in 17 states, including Connecticut. One patient died in Illinois. The cases come as Massachusetts doctors, lawmakers and teachers call teen vaping an "epidemic."
Boston 25 News anchor Kerry Kavanaugh talked with a former vaper from Reading to find out how local teens are getting hooked, and sat down with the state Attorney General to learn what's being done to protect teens from the marketing and health risks of e-cigarettes.
"Were you hooked right away?" Kavanaugh asked UMass Lowell Student Matt Murphy.
"I wasn't hooked right away, but I did seek it out after I used it for the first time," Murphy responded.
Murphy told Kavanaugh he was in high school when he started vaping daily. Eventually he said he bought his very own Juul, one of the largest makers of vaping devices.
"I had a velcro on the bedside table. And I would stick one end to the Juul, one end to the bedside table. Stick it right there, I wouldn't even have to open my eyes, I would get relief," Murphy said.
A Centers for Disease Control survey found during the 2017-18 school year, E-cigarette use among high school students rose 78% for high school students and 48% among middle schoolers.
"We see young people who are vaping that never would have picked up a cigarette. But they're picking up e-cigarettes and they're vaping because they, and sometimes their parents, think it's totally harmless," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said.
She says her office sounded the alarm more than a year ago, after looking at how vaping companies were marketing their products.
"They create a whole social media platform. They use cartoon characters, figures from pop culture, they actually use flavors that are really styled to be attractive to young people cotton candy, bubble gum…" Healey said.
Healey says companies would advertise across Snapchat and Instagram and even a homework app.
"We immediately took action to shut down retailers and online retailers who were selling to kids under the age of 21," Healey said. The office has been investigating Juul for more than a year.
"The reality is that this is really dangerous for young people," Healey said.
Since e-cigarettes have only been around about a decade, little is known about long-term health effects.
In response to the CDC investigation on lung disease cases, Boston 25 News reached out to the American Vaping Association, a non-profit that says it advocates for 'sensible' vaping regulation.
The AVA issued this statement:
Juul also issued a statement to Boston 25 News after a request for comment on the story was made:
Matt Murphy says if you're a young person trying to quit, ask your parents for help. That's what ultimately what helped him quit for good.
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