SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – #QuitLying is the name of the campaign that the American Heart Association says highlights the truth about the risks of vaping.
"Initially when vaping first came out, people thought it was a safer alternative to traditional tobacco, and we're here now with new research, new information that is pointing to the fact that it is not a safer alternative," said Ebony Bagley, the communications director for the American Heart Association in Southeastern Michigan.
Bagley says their focus is on educating children and their parents.
“These products are being marketed to kids. They’re being marketed to appeal to a certain age group,” said Bagley. “Kids were just not aware of the harmful effects. A lot of them thought they were doing something safer than cigarette smoking.”
In addition to the awareness campaign, the American Heart Association is funding millions of dollars in new research on the effects of nicotine on young people. It is also working to strengthen vaping laws nationwide and bring their message about the risks directly to students.
"Our forums, we have not only teachers or students that are also affected by vaping, but we also have physicians as well," explained Bagley.
One of those physicians is Dr. Lisa Allenspach, director of the lung transplant program at Henry Ford Hospital.
"The e-cigarette industry has been very deceptive in terms of how it has been marketed, how it has not really been implicated as a danger really with the dangers that we are seeing," said Allenspach.
It's not just the lungs that are affected.
"Nicotine we know is a very bad thing for the heart and that is one of the main dangers that we are seeing," said Allenspach.
Allenspach is one of the doctors who cared for Daniel Ament, the local teenager who needed a lung transplant to survive a vaping-related lung injury.
"Seeing Daniel and what he went through really has highlighted for all of us the need to get involved, the need to spread the word, how important it is both in what he is doing and what we can do in the medical community helping everyone to stay away from all vaping products," said Allenspach. "The American Medical Association has said they absolutely recommend no vaping be done in any fashion."
It's a goal they hope young people will take to heart.
“We’re encouraging young people right now to visit our website, and their parents and educators, at quitlying.org,” said Bagley. “It provides resources for parents, teachers and educators on the harmful effects of vaping, statistics on vaping and also ways that you can get your young person in your life to quit.”
If you are interested in hosting an educational forum on vaping at your school, contact the American Heart Association at 248-936-5800.
For youth vaping resources, click here.