RE@LBlog brings Part 2 of Dr. Rose Marie Leslie’s medical perspective on teenage vaping.
Dr. Leslie is a Family Medicine Resident at the University of Minnesota. Additionally,she is a very well-known TikTok social-media influencer with thousands of followers.
Dr. Leslie uses her social media platform to talk with teens about various health issues that matter to them. Our readers will find the many insights she shares with teenagers helpful on the perils of vaping.
Dr. Leslie has become a welcome source to many, including the thousands of teenagers who appreciate her candid and helpful health tips. Click on the TikTok graphic to view her recent video on teenage vaping dangers.
She recently partnered with Children’s Minnesota in support of their anti-vaping campaign and was willing to do this recent interview with us.
RE@L’s Media Producer, Tacy Mangan, conducted the interview below.
Here’s what Dr. Leslie has to tell teens and teachers in her second blog on the perils of vaping. Vapers and smokers, particularly teens, are being mis-led when it comes tobacco messages: “There’s a lot of information coming out of cigarette and vape shops that is based off of misinformation, or one very small study that doesn’t have a lot of power behind it because of lack of participants.”
Here’s Dr. Leslie’s intervew:
Tacy Mangan (TM): What kinds of questions do teens ask you about vaping since you’re in direct communication with them via TikTok and social media?
“A lot of these teens are really smart. They’re looking stuff up online…”
Dr. Leslie (DL): Teens ask me a lot of things, a lot of questions about “is this something that can be a treatment for people to stop smoking cigarettes?” which is something that the medical community is still researching and looking into. People ask me questions about kids or teens who have made the decision to move away from using nicotine, but still use e-cigarettes with nicotine in them.
There are e-cigarettes now that that don’t have nicotine in them. Oftentimes, they contain other substances that don’t have safe profiles for being inhaled regularly. But teens are asking, “OK, what would be better? Is it better for me to use one of these non-nicotine vapes since the habit of picking something up and inhaling it, is something that gives me that same sense of relief? Should I try that first?” I get lots of questions, very detailed questions. A lot of these teens are really smart. They’re looking stuff up online and trying to figure out how it applies to them.
TM: What do teens know about addiction and are they concerned about it?
“We also know that nicotine has a harmful impact on brain development, especially in adolescents…”
DL: Nicotine is an extremely addictive substance, regardless of what way you ingest it, inhale it to whatever, it’s extremely addictive and once their body builds up a dependence, tolerance to nicotine, it’s extremely hard for people to quit. The vast majority of vaping and cigarette products have nicotine in them and oftentimes at much larger doses than people would even expect. Teens can end up vaping very high amounts of nicotine very easily without really realizing it, or how many cigarettes would equate to vaping per day as far as nicotine goes. We also know that nicotine has a harmful impact on brain development, especially in adolescents, so that’s something that is important to think about and communicate as well. I think the thing about addiction in general, is that addiction is an illness the same way diabetes is.
It’s something that needs to be treated appropriately with health professionals who understand how to treat addiction. I try when working with my patients to avoid shame or judgment or getting to a place where somebody feels like they have an addiction or meet diagnostic criteria for a use disorder of some kind. Again, it’s a medical illness many other types of illnesses. So, addiction is something that we want to be approaching without shame, without judgment and treating just as with just as much importance as any other reason that people see a doctor.
TM: What treatment options are out there today for this age group?
“What do you [students] do when you have a lot of anxiety and you usually turn to your cigarette?…We approach it [treatment] from a medical standpoint and a mental health standpoint because they’re so connected.”
DL: One of the most important treatment options for young people is working with a mental health professional and doing habit related therapy or therapy related to use disorders.
There are significant amounts of data showing that therapy can be helpful. At our clinic, our psychologists work with people who are interested in quitting any sort of tobacco product. We approach it from a medical standpoint and mental health standpoint because they’re so connected. Whenever you want to create a behavior change and work on an addiction, having input from mental health professionals can be extremely effective.
“What do you do when you have a lot of anxiety and you usually turn to your cigarette and now that’s something you’re trying to quit? What else can you do?”
There’s nicotine replacement therapy as well as certain medications that can be taken daily to help decrease cravings. Everyone should go to their health care professional, to their primary care doctor or nurse practitioner who whoever it is, to discuss what would be right for them, because certain options are more appropriate for certain ages. That’s what I would recommend; go talk to your primary care provider about what options you have based on age.