Health professionals at Erlanger Monday, wanted to warn parents of the dangers of vaping for teens. 

Dr. Matthew Kreth, a pulmonologist with Erlanger, says studies show a 78% increase from 2017 to 2018 of middle and high school students using e-cigarette products. An estimated 3.6 million middle and high schoolers have used an e-cigarette product in the last 30 days.

That number drew enough attention that he and Dr. John Heise in adolescent medicine started the Smoke Be Gone clinic for people 21 and under. 

"We were going to do it from an addiction standpoint just from the amount of middle and high schoolers that are doing it," said Dr. Kreth. 

The urgency for this clinic has increased since there have been 800 lung injuries and 12 deaths nationwide as well as 40 injuries in Tennessee. 

He says most of these cases involve people adding THC or CBD oil to their vape pens, but there are still cases with only nicotine that have landed people in the hospital with respiratory issues.

"In about 16% of those it was kids less than 18, who shouldn't have access to vaping anyway," said Dr. Kreth. 

Paula Collier with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department says this isn't just water vapor that a person is inhaling but an aerosol. 

"The particles in e-cigarettes are heavy metals like nickel and lead, volatile organic compounds like Benzine," said Collier. "They also contain formaldehyde, and diacetyl and nicotine which is addictive."

Dr. Kreth said that the only thing lungs are equipped to handle is the air, not only does breathing in this vapor put you at greater risk for asthma, but also respiratory diseases, along with more catastrophic consequences. 

"The lungs basically start attacking those micro-fine particles everywhere, you get a hyper immune response to that which leads to respiratory failure," said Dr. Kreth. 

Dr. Heise says that vaping and cigarettes do affect a child's mind differently than an adults. 

"It does affect their memory, their concentration, their impulse control, their learning ability," said Dr. Heise. 

He said Smoke Be Gone will be an individualized program that involves parents to help teens stop vaping. If you need to get your child in this program you can call 423-778-KIDS, or you can get a referral from a pediatrician.

"This is an issue that's going on that the guardians, or parents will know, they are going to be involved, they're going to be a part of the treatment," said Dr. Heise. 

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