U of M doctor uses TikTok to show the dangers of youth tobacco use

Updated: October 17, 2019 06:44 PM

A local doctor is using a social media platform popular among young people to highlight the dangers of using tobacco.

The American Pediatrics is reporting more than 27 percent of high school students are using e-cigarettes.


The organization has called on Congress to pass the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, which would prohibit flavored tobacco products—including e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

While that act is still in limbo in Washington, D.C., a University of Minnesota doctor is turning to TikTok to address young people directly on the dangers of vaping.

The video-sharing app TikTok is known for its memes but with youth vaping becoming a national health emergency, medical professionals are considering other ways to reach kids. 

Dr. Rose Leslie, a family medicine resident at the University of Minnesota, said it's a great way to reach out to young people.

"It's been a great way for me to understand what health topics are important (to) youth and young adults," Leslie told ABC News.

The 29-year-old doctor said she is discussing the dangers on TikTok even if it's not the most popular opinion.

"As long as the risks are out there, I still think it's a topic that I want to make sure I am talking about." 

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Followers like Martin Wolk, who was an avid smoker for five years, said he finally called it quits after he saw one of Leslie's videos. 

"She showed you damage to the lung and I've never really seen, like, X-rays photos of damaged people's lungs after vaping so it, like, scared me so I wanted to do something about it," Martin told ABC News.

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to investigate and learn more about lung-related injuries tied to vaping, Leslie said getting information to teens is critical.

"I share health information the way I would to one of my friends," Leslie said. "I really think that's the most effective way about talking about a health topic and getting people to listen."

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