Instagram sensation Doug the Pug "wants to look out for his human friends," according to his owner, by using his vast social media following to take on the teen vaping epidemic.
Doug is teaming up with the Truth Initiative on a prevention campaign which will launch Monday at MTV's Video Music Awards.
Thursday he sat down — like a good boy — for an interview with Cheddar, along with his dog mom Leslie Mosier and Luka Kinard, a former vaper-turned-activist.
Kinard detailed his experience with vaping while in high school and talked about how he gave it up. Kinard said he vaped "every day, 24/7 … all day long as long as I was awake."
"I was a freshman in high school when I first started. It was my first Friday night football game when I was introduced to it. And for me, it was just a way to fit in," said Kinard. "And then it became a coping mechanism, and then it became my identity."
When Kinard faced a major medical emergency, he realized things needed to change.
"I went to rehab in October of 2018. And prior to rehab, I had a seizure related to vaping," said Kineard. "Ever since then I realized I wanted to change my life." That is when he decided to get involved with the Truth Initiative.
The growth in the number of U.S. teens using e-cigarettes has been astonishing. The percent change of teens reporting vaping within 30 days from 2017 to 2018 was 77 percent. In 2017, the number of teen vapers was 11.7 percent, and a year later that number jumped to 20.8 percent — a 77 percent increase, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey.
As more teens try vaping, there are growing concerns about the health impacts. There is little known about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes.
However, there has been an outbreak of illnesses reported in the last two months, with 16 states reporting 153 cases of vaping-related respiratory illnesses. Many of the patients are teens and young adults, according to a report from the New York Times.