Vaping has been around for years, but it’s taking center stage as deaths rise nationwide and people are diagnosed with lung issues linked to vaping.
Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd goes in-depth with Dr. David Schultz, a primary care doctor in Evansville, to talk about vaping and the health concerns surrounding vaping.
Brad Byrd: Welcome to in-depth: At the top of the newscast we brought you the story of a Daviess County High School student taken to the hospital today after an incident involving vaping. In an unrelated report, the Indiana Department of Health says a fourth death linked to vaping is now confirmed. Joining me tonight is Dr. David Schultz a primary care doctor in Evansville. He is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He’s currently an alternate delegate representing Indiana in national healthcare issues.
Dr. Schultz: It’s very important in our academy to discuss this because it’s one of the fastest growing disorders that we’re now facing with over a 900% increase in vaping use among adolescents and teenagers.
Brad: And let’s just talk about the teens. Why are they so susceptible to this?
Dr. Schultz: Well I think, Brad, there’s about four reasons for that. First of all, the teenager’s mind is more sensitive to nicotine and the effects of that. The second reason has to be marketing. Marketing is very important. It’s the taste of the vaping substances also that’s very very appealing. And frankly, a lot of our teens and youth think it’s a much safer substance to use rather than traditional tobacco products.
Brad: In your viewpoint, there is no such thing as a healthy e-cig?
Dr. Schultz: Absolutely. We totally feel that use of e-cigarettes and nicotine products are dangerous as they increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Brad: And young people are almost becoming emboldened by this. Why is that? Because this situation at Daviess County High School today, it happened during school hours involving seven students.
Dr. Schultz: I think several reasons for that. First of all, the peer pressure involved with that is tremendous, it’s great. Also, there’s increased heart rate, increased breathing rate associated with the use of such nicotine products. Some of these individuals feel like their part of the group when they’re doing this.
Brad: And this academy that you’re a member of has come up with four recommendations within the past month, you tell me.
Dr. Schultz: Absolutely. The first thing our academy wants to do is we really need to cease marketing nicotine related products, vaping products, to teenagers and young adults. That’s just absolutely unacceptable. And then the other thing that we need to do is as physicians, try to identify and screen for adolescents and youth that are either at risk or actually using such nicotine products. And then encourage parents to bring up these topics to their children and adolescents and also to promote healthier life styles.
Brad: And proponents of vaping say this is actually safer than tobacco use. What do you say to that?
Dr. Schultz: We have tremendous concerns about that. First of all, we view it as a gateway to using other tobacco products. I think that’s a very valid point as we’ve seen over 40% of individuals who have used vaping products go onto other tobacco related substances.
Brad: And what goes into these e-cigs? We’ve heard about THC, of course. The vitamin E acetate. The flavors. Do we really know what’s in those, especially those not only from the black market but from the biggest provider, Juul.
Dr. Schultz: Well certainly. Anything is able to be put into these devices. Even some of the Juul products have 40 milligrams of nicotine, which is actually equal to a pack of cigarettes.
Brad: 40 milligrams.
Dr. Schultz: 40 milligrams.
Brad: Do you think a lot of the young people, or even adults, realize that when they’re vaping?
Dr. Schultz: It seems so safe because there’s not an after taste, there’s not an after smell with it. It seems cleaner and I think a lot of the younger people are appealed to this because when it’s a product when they don’t smell like they’ve used something, they feel like they can get away with it.
Brad: You spoke earlier this evening, correct me if I’m wrong about self value. I guess we’re getting back to the “this is going to be okay for me as a long as I don’t harm others.”
Dr. Schultz: Well certainly, everyone has a different system and a different starting point as far as that’s concerned. And what we really see is a battle among value systems. The younger person’s philosophy is “my value system is okay as long as it doesn’t hurt another person’s value system.” But when it comes to issues of health, sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. What are the long term affects that such a habit can develop and can it cause potential harms down the road? As we know, when someone is harmed from a health standpoint, it just doesn’t affect that person, it affects everybody.
Brad: When I contacted you tonight to appear here based on this situation in Daviess County, were you surprised by the number of students in the middle of the school day vaping?
Dr. Schultz: Certainly that is a tremendous surprise. The purpose of school of course is education and development and so forth. When there’s a large number of children that are actually taking time out of their day to do something that is obviously against school rules, it speaks highly about the nature of the activity they’re participating in.
(This story was originally published on November 14, 2019)