TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has a warning for parents: Teenagers who vape may be exacerbating the COVID-19 crisis and could be more vulnerable to increased risk of complications.

“We know that most young people are not as susceptible to some of the more serious effects of the virus unless they have a preexisting condition. But, for teens who vape, we are now hearing that vaping may cause damage to their young lungs and is even more devastating when combined with COVID-19,” said Moody.

Hillsborough County statistics show a surge in young people contracting COVID-19.

The Florida Department of Health recently announced 119 cases of vaping-related pulmonary illnesses statewide.

According to a state report, nearly one in four Florida high school students now admit to vaping. The report says e-cigarette use among Florida high school students increased by 63% from 2017 to 2018.

A hospital in Orlando recently saw a substantial rise in teen-vaping related cases that resulted in critical lung injuries, according to Moody.

The symptoms of COVID-19 and vaping-related illnesses are similar and so are how they are treated.

“The hallmark of treating both of those is good supportive care and supporting the patient and their lung injury through their time of illness,” Tampa General Hospital’s Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Wein said. “At the moment, we’re seeing a lot more ill COVID patients than we are patients that are sick from vaping.”

The doctor’s best advice? Avoid vaping, especially now with COVID-19 cases seemingly on the rise.

“Any insult to the lungs from vaping or smoking traditional cigarettes certainly is a set up for worse pulmonary injury were you to get COVID or any other respiratory disease,” said Dr. Wein.