Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, a family medicine resident at the University of Minnesota, is a well-known TikTok influencer, one who uses her social media platform to speak to teens about health issues that matter to them.
Dr. Leslie recently partnered with Children’s Minnesota in support of their anti-vaping campaign and did this interview with us in December.
Media producer Tacy Mangan has conducted these six recent interviews with Dr. Griffths and Dr. Leslie, the last of which is presented below.
In this last of six interview blogs, Dr. Leslie talks about the effects of vaping on teen mental health in addition to their physical well-being:
“I think there’s absolutely no shame in recognizing the fact that for most kids, they’ll probably need help quitting….”
Click on her photo to the right for a link to Dr. Leslie’s TikTok talk. RE@L presents the last part of her RE@LBlog Interview:
Tacy Mangan (TM): What would you say is your greatest concern about adolescence and vaping?
Dr. Leslie (DL): One of my biggest concerns about e-cigarette use is that teens are turning to vaping to treat their mental health conditions. That’s one of the things that worries me the most.
I have seen mental health conditions being diagnosed more frequently. People with underlying mental health conditions that are getting worse this year due to the pandemic. Kids are feeling really scared about themselves, their families and wondering what to do.
There are a lot of kids who are turning to anything that they think could help with “right now” because they’re really struggling….vaping is now an easy thing to access and might temporarily cause people to feel a bit of relief. It’s become popular. It’s easy to use. And it’s very discrete.
Many people are trying to use vaping as a way to treat their mental health conditions. Ultimately, we know that if kids are using nicotine and vaping for long periods of time, the anxiolytic (anxiety reducer) effects wear off and over time can make kids have even more anxious feelings and for a longer term.
That’s something that I’m really worried about. I also worry about the lack of regulation on a national level of e-cigarette and vaping products!
“…chicken soup is delicious and nutritious, but you don’t want to inhale it….right? That’s something that I worry about, too.”
There are a lot of ingredients in these products that are FDA approved for ingestion, so eating them is ok, but we don’t have a lot of data or about what happens when somebody is regularly inhaling those substances. Things are very different when you inhale them versus eating them. You know, like “chicken soup is delicious and nutritious, but you don’t want to inhale it. Right?” That’s something that I worry about, too. There’s not a ton of data about a lot of these substances that, vaping companies will use and say, “Hey, this product is FDA approved.” But, it’s FDA approved to be eaten or ingested, not to be inhaled. Those are some of the things that worry me long-term.
TM: What would you say is the percentage of the teens that are able to just walk away from vaping at some point?
DL: It depends on what they’re vaping. Nicotine products have a very, very high addictive potential. Marijuana products actually are less addictive. However, they still can be addictive. Are kids really just using the non-nicotine flavored vapor products that include only sugar water, essentially with flavoring in there?
I think it’s really important to ask kids about what they’re using. We need to know how often they’re doing it; is it just on the weekends when they’re out with their friends, which hopefully they’re not doing right now because of the pandemic? Or do they go to a party at a friend’s house and maybe use an e-cigarette twice a week? Or do they who sit and use it all day, every single day? Those are the things that really play into how likely someone would be able to quit on their own.
“there’s absolutely no shame in recognizing the fact that for most kids, they’ll probably need help quitting…
I think there’s absolutely no shame in recognizing the fact that for most kids, they’ll probably need help quitting. For most kids who are using daily, they will need help and that’s OK. That’s what that’s what your health care provider is there that’s when we want to talk to you about it. We can help people and teens with this issue and we want to see people come in if they have any goals of wanting to quit.
TM: Anything else that you’d like to say that you haven’t covered to this point or want people to know about vaping and adolescents?
DL: A lot of kids will potentially know more about vaping than you do, and will have researched it more than you have. Seeing where they’re at is the most important thing and asking if they’re ready to quit….[they] need to feel ready and want to quit before they actually can be successful.
I think it’s really important to talk honestly with kids about vaping and approach it from a place of curiosity…”
RE@LBlog thanks are extended to Dr. Leslie and the team at Children’s Minnesota for providing us with this interview. And our repeated thanks to Tacy Mangan for transcribing and publishing these anti-vaping responses from Dr. Leslie Griffiths and Dr. Rose Marie Leslie .