Why your doctor might start asking patients if they vape

The CDC reports more than 800 vaping-related illnesses & 12 deaths


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are always the usual questions when you go see the doctor. Do you drink? Do you smoke?

Well, now some doctors are having to ask their patients if they vape.

The scrutiny on vaping comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a recent surge in vaping-related illnesses, including 805 confirmed cases and 12 deaths.

Currently, there is no formal way for doctors to report vaping behavior separate from smoking habits. As a result, everyone is kind of making up these new guidelines as they go.

So, unless a patient walks into the clinic with a vaping device in hand and vapor billowing from their mouth, it's unlikely a doctor can tell if they have a history of e-cigarette use.

But it looks like that's about to change.

The vaping craze has reached an all-time high, but exactly how many people vape is still unclear. But we do know that it's popular among young people across Northeast Florida.

In fact, the health department found 12 percent of teens ages 11 to 17 in Duval County say they vape, compared to 15.9 percent in Clay and 20.5 percent in St. Johns. The statewide average is 15.7 percent.

Now, the health department is asking doctors for help. In the past, physicians asked if patients smoked, but did not specify vaping. Some local hospitals plan to begin asking depending on the circumstances.

For instance, Wolfson Children's Hospital said teens who come into the ER with respiratory issues may be asked if they vape. UF Health says doctors may ask patients who have underlying symptoms.

But elsewhere, doctors are reminding parents and teens about the importance of being open with their physicians, even if they find it embarrassing or are worried about upsetting loved ones.

Their lives may depend on it.

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