The effects of vaping on the teen brain

A 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device
A 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device near the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass., in September 2018.
Steven Senne | AP Photo file

Even before COVID-19 took over our lives, the rise of teen vaping alarmed public health officials. 

Numbers dropped this past year, likely because of the pandemic and flavor bans. Still, about 1 out of every 5 high schoolers reported using an electronic cigarette in 2020. 

Many of them think vaping is not that harmful. Not so, say experts. Vaping causes extensive damage in the lungs, makes teens vulnerable to smoking cigarettes later in life, and might cause permanent changes to their developing brains.

Monday, two neurologists who study teens and vaping joined MPR News host Kerri Miller to talk about what the science says when it comes to vapes and the developing brain. 


  • Marina Picciotto is a neuroscientist and professor of psychiatry and a professor of pharmacology and neuroscience in the Child Study Center at Yale School of Medicine. 

  • Shahrdad Lotfipour is a translational addiction biologist and neuroscientist at UC Irvine and the principal investigator at Lotfipour Lab. 

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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