NEW LENOX - The parents of an 18-year-old New Lenox girl are speaking out after they say their daughter nearly died after she got hooked on vaping.
Now, they are calling on Illinois lawmakers to crack down on e-cigarette companies.
"Our kids are under attack and no one is standing up for them,” said Ruby Johnson.
Ruby and Tim Johnson of New Lenox say they want parents to know about the dangers of vaping. In August, Ruby was driving their 18-year-old daughter Piper to start college at Northern Colorado when Piper began having trouble breathing.
Within 24 hours, she was hospitalized in intensive care.
"That night she cried to her nurse. She said I can't take a deep breath. It hurts. It feels like my lungs are on fire,” Ruby said.
Doctors determined Piper was suffering from an unusual form of pneumonia, which they believe was caused by at least a year's worth of vaping -- both flavored nicotine capsules and THC.
"Her pulmonologist said he fears that another day or two I'd waited to bring her in she'd be unresponsive and on a ventilator,” Ruby said.
"E-Cigarettes are a grossly unregulated industry. They have targeted our children in an effort to create a new generation of nicotine addicts,” said the Johnson’s attorney Michael Gallagher.
The Johnson’s say Illinois needs to pass legislation similar to Michigan, which recently banned flavored e-cigarettes and regulates the marketing of vaping products.
"We need to get the word out. Something's got to be done. There's not enough regulation,” Tim said.
In a statement, a spokesman for the e-cigarette manufacturer Juul says: "We share these concerns about youth vaping, which is why we have taken the most aggressive actions of anyone in the industry to combat youth usage...We have never marketed to youth and we never will."
Piper has recovered well enough to begin attending classes.
"We're also really proud of her because she was determined to turn her mess into her message,” Ruby said.