Doctors report teens turning to e-cigarettes, vaping to cope with stress, anxiety during pandemic

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Doctors in Minnesota say the COVID-19 pandemic has more teens turning to e-cigarettes and vaping to cope with stress and anxiety.

Children’s Minnesota is sending out a warning message on using electronic cigarettes.

They’re getting help from Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, a family medicine resident, who uses her social media platforms on TikTok to speak to teens about health issues that matter to them.

Other doctors with Children’s Minnesota are concerned about vaping trends too.

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“This became clear that our patients really had pretty significant problems in terms of the quantity that they were vaping, the perception of safety of these drugs and chemicals that they were inhaling, and also struggling with stress and anxiety and depression and trying to manage these symptoms by self-treating that they thought was a reasonable way that ultimately leads to lung injury,” said Dr. Anne Griffiths, a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Minnesota.

Griffiths has represented Children’s Minnesota for a testimony when the state announced its lawsuit against the makers of JUUL e-cigarettes back in December.

Anti-vaping messaging, she says, is especially important during the pandemic.

“How does this interact with COVID-19? Some early data suggests that tobacco exposure, nicotine exposure, in general, may change the way the body responds to the virus,” Griffiths said

Vaping nicotine has been shown to affect the lungs and the immune system, and that’s trouble as the respiratory illness spreads.