Warning to parents - teens using e-cigarettes to get high - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Warning to parents - teens using e-cigarettes to get high

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Amarillo, Texas - E-cigarettes are marketed as a safer alternative to smoking. But now, teens are using them for a different purpose that could be dangerous that parents should be aware of.

The CDC reports more than 2 million middle and high schoolers have tried e-cigarettes. But now they are using them in other ways than just smokeless tobacco.

"It's not regulated at all. You're 13 or 14 years old, you can buy the battery powered e-cigarette. And that's scary," LaViza Matthews, Impact Futures project director said.

What's even more scary is how teens are now using e-cigarettes, to get high. Oils containing the ingredient THC from marijuana and synthetic drugs are being used in these devices. This trend is making it's way into area schools.

"His friend lit up his e-cigarette, and he was like that smells different. And usually the vapor doesn't smell like anything. It's just a humectante they put in there, but he said it smells different. He goes now when a cop passes me all he sees is the e-cigarette. Then my kid's friend knew. He was like yeah he was probably smoking weed in there," Matthews said.

Teens are saying it is a more discrete way of getting high. But inhaling the vapor form is actually more dangerous.

"When you inhale something there is so much contact between vapors and your lungs. There is so much area to absorb these substances and it just goes directly into the blood stream," Roger Smalligan, MD, Texas Tech Health Sciences Center said.

We've already had many children sent to the hospital locally for smoking synthetic drugs. Dr. Smalligan says this has the potential to be worse.

"We've seen young people in our emergency room having all kinds of bad side effects of seizures, just reoccurring nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain. All kinds of really bad side effects from K2 and spice. If you think about getting that into your bloodstream so quickly when it's made into a pure vapor. That's very very dangerous," Smalligan said.

Legislation to regulate e-cigarettes like other tobacco products has been introduced to help keep these out of kids hands.