Arkansas mother warns of vaping dangers after son’s diagnosis

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A well-known local woman has a warning for other parents after she said her son got sick from using e-cigarettes.

Erin Griffin is the owner of Cotham’s Restaurant in downtown Little Rock.

She considered herself to be a mom who “doesn’t have her head in the clouds,” so you can only imagine how she felt when she first found out her teenage son was vaping.

“I knew he was doing it. I mean, I’m not an idiot,” Griffin said about her 17-year-old son, Max. “We’ve got a really open relationship, but I never said, ‘How much are you doing? How often are you doing this?’”

As a longtime smoker who just quit five years ago, Griffin said she was clueless about e-cigarettes and their potential dangers.

“This vaping thing just passed me right by,” Griffin added.

Over the summer, she said Max developed what she called a smoker’s cough.

“He started complaining just a few weeks ago of shortness of breath and he was coughing a lot and heartburn. He felt like, just a pain in his chest,” Griffin said.

When Max vomited blood, she decided to take him to the doctor.

“He has tears and ulcers on his esophagus. His stomach is clear. I thought maybe he had a bleeding ulcer or something. Never even clued in that it was from vaping. I thought he had an ulcer,” Griffin continued.

She said the doctor said the diagnosis was from vaping, which he had been doing for about two years.

“He was doing it in the house downstairs in his room, playing video games and I had no idea. You can’t smell it. It completely dissipates in the air and I had no idea what was going on under my own roof,” Griffin said.

After Max’s diagnosis, she took to Facebook to share her son’s story. Within days, her post got more than 1,000 shares.

“There was just so many people that it touched that are dealing with it or want to get the word out that this is something that happened or this is what the doctor said. This is real,” she explained.

Max will now have to take some medication for a few months, but should make a full recovery, according to his mother. She now urges parents to test their kids for nicotine.

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) confirmed it is investigating at least one vaping-related illness case in Pulaski County. Across the state, there have been three confirmed cases, 10 probable cases and six under investigation, according to ADH.

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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