MADISON, Wis. - Jonathan Brynelson started vaping when he was a freshman in high school. He is not alone. According to the FDA more than 3 million middle and high school students were using e-cigarettes in 2015.
Brynelson is now an 18-year-old high school graduate and wonders what if any health risks vaping brings. That's why he is part of the Exhale Study being conducted by the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.
The 5-year $3.7 million study is funded by the National Cancer Institute and the FDA. It is monitoring the health of individuals who smoke exclusively cigarettes and those who both smoke and vape. The research will focus on what if any affects vaping has on lung function.
"There's one we really don't know," said Dr. Doug Jorenby, a lead investigator in the study. "We know smoking traditional cigarettes in the long term is very harmful to people's lungs. You can track that over time. We really don't know much about that in terms of vaping."
Individuals enrolled in the study are monitored over a two-year span. Data is collected on pattern of use and regular tests are performed to measure carbon monoxide in the system and lung function. Those tests are performed both before and after an individual vapes.
The hope is the study's findings will help provide guidance to government agencies of any health concerns.
"Just having knowledge about some of the effects of vaping, be they positive or negative, we don't have any assumptions about what is going on," Jorenby said.
To date 300 individuals are enrolled in the study. The study is looking for an additional 100 participants. Anyone interested in participating should visit www.mytobaccouse.com.