Doctor uses popular app to show young people dangers of vaping

Dr. Rose Marie Leslie has used her presence on TikTok to talk vaping.

September 18, 2019, 11:47 AM

One doctor has found a foothold with the trendy social media platform TikTok to try and appeal to teens in hopes of discouraging e-cigarette use.

Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, a second-year resident in family medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School, has taken a new approach to the app popular among younger users for sharing short videos to make a difference in the wake of recent health warnings.

"There were a lot of adolescents and young adults, millions really, making up the population on this social media platform, but relatively few medical professionals," Leslie told ABC News. "So I really felt like it was a space where I could come in and use the health information that I know."

The soaring popularity of vaping has sparked new concerns over the potential health risks that could come with it after a sixth person died from a vaping-related lung illness.

Dr. Leslie, who works out of University of Minnesota Physicians Broadway Family Medicine Clinic, shares information first hand like showing, side by side, x-rays of patients with healthy lungs and patients with a "mysterious disease associated with vaping."

"The response has been quite good," she said. "I have received many messages of people who are asking where they can find links for more information."

While some have hailed her for helping, Leslie has faced some critics.

"Any time when you explain the risks of a habit that's perceived as cool, there will be negative responses," she said. "Despite those experiences, the risks still exist."

"I just continue to give health information, relay what the CDC is putting out in a palatable way, in the space where teens and young adults are," she said.

Police in Wisconsin announced arrests in connection with a drug operation that was filling 3,000 to 5,000 illegal THC vaping cartridges a day for nearly two years at concentrations 157 times the labeled THC potency. It’s still unknown if these cartridges have been linked to any illness.

Leslie said there's still many unknowns with this "mysterious" illness, but shared a few key health tips.

"Women who are pregnant and teenagers should not be using any e-cigarettes or vape materials. People who have any shortness of breath, any chest pain, any fever should go in and seek medical attention," Leslie advised. "Avoid all tampered-with or black-market THC or e-cigarette products."

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