Teens who regularly vape THC — the compound in marijuana that causes a “high” — were more likely to develop e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), according to a new study by Cleveland Clinic Children’s hospital published in the Journal of Pediatric Pulmonary. Researchers also found that teenagers with mental health conditions were more likely to vape.

Reusable, pod-based vapes contain nearly 60% more nicotine than cigarettes. Not only are they far more addictive than cigarettes, flavors and THC can be added to the refillable cartridges, making them even more attractive to teens.

“This is especially concerning because we know that this population is especially susceptible to addiction and substance abuse,” said Dr. Fariba Rezaee, pediatric pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s and a coauthor on the study. “Vaping nicotine and THC increases the likelihood of addiction.”

The study was based on a review of examination reports and chest images of seven Cleveland Clinic Children’s patients, ages 15 to 18, who were hospitalized for respiratory distress. All seven patients had a history of anxiety, depression, and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Six patients had a history of using refillable vapes containing THC. One had a history of using disposable vapes filled with nicotine. The teens reported vaping the products daily for a period of three months to four years. While all the teens suffered from respiratory symptoms, four also had gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Three patients also had abnormalities in how their lungs transferred oxygen to the red blood cells. “Therefore we know that patients must be closely monitored during the recovery process,” Dr. Rezaee said. “This includes lung function testing to assess the long-term health effects of EVALI.”

Since Feb. 18, 2020, a total of 2,807 people across the country have been hospitalized with EVALI, and at least 68 have died.

Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals who are suing the top U.S. vape maker JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. Recognizing the critical threat to young people ensnared by nicotine addiction, and its effect on our nation’s educational system, our firm has also joined other nationally recognized law firms to represent school districts and public entities across the country in the fight to stop the school vaping crisis.

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