A Central Texas man issued an urgent warning Thursday after he said his vaping caused a serious lung condition.
Considered by many a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, electronic smoking devices have snowballed in popularity in recent years. While some advocate on their behalf, others have spoken against vape devices.
According to a 2016 report from the Surgeon General, nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes can still cause addiction, potential lung issues and harm the brains of adolescents.
"I don't think that we know everything we need to know," said Dr. Paul M. Cinciripini, director of the Tobacco Treatment Program at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "But, I do think we can say less harmful is not harmless."
Tommy Lowrance, a professor at McLennan Community College, developed a condition called "Popcorn Lung" after starting to vape for a short period of time in order to help quit cigarettes. Now, most likely as a result of the chemicals found in those e-cigarettes, he has to use an oxygen machine to function. And, his lungs are in worse condition than people who suffer from some of the most severe lung diseases.
"I can't exhale air out of my lungs at all," Lowrance said. "I have about a 20-percent lung function. For most Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients, say, they have far better lung function than me."
Lowrance has been treated by some of the best lung doctors in the world. And, although, they cannot say definitively that his condition came as a result of vaping -- simply because there is not enough information available yet about long-term effects -- they all agree it was most likely the cause.
"I think many young people are still going to choose to do it, but I would pray that they would heed the warning that my life should be an example of what not to do," Lowrance said. "The bottom line is we just don't know what were putting into our bodies, and if you are going to take the risk, this could be the result."