Planet of the vapes

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The desire, the want, the feel. A teenager’s search for meaning, or perhaps, an escape. Many people think that vaping is a perfect alternative to smoking. Even the most popular vape companies, such as Juul, advertise that their products are better than smoking cigarettes, especially when it comes to odor and a more pleasurable feel. However, these products have far more disadvantages and teens, such as Simah Herman, can tell you how.

The common misconception in today’s generation is that vaporizers are generally a “safe” product. It popularized the idea that you could smoke it for hours and the only risk you were putting in front of you is an empty Juul pod. It puts teens and young adults in the ideal mindset that they are not a smoker and that they cannot, and will not, be affected by this “harmless” device. However, this is just not the case.

“There’s a campaign of misinformation when you use the word ‘safe’,” Panagis Galiatatsatos said in a statement to USA Today. She is a pulmonologist and tobacco treatment specialist at Johns Hopkins University. “These products were designed to appeal to teens and to go undetected by adults. According to the Surgeon General, there’s no safe level of exposure to nicotine.”

ABC News recently reported that an 18-year-old girl in Los Angeles, Calif. named Simah Herman was hospitalized because of vaping. She seemed to have exhibited symptoms of pneumonia, a lung infection in which your lungs fill up with fluid from blockage, leaving you unable to breathe or move. “I just remember feeling like absolute… nothing. Like I just couldn’t do anything,” Herman said, “I couldn’t drink water. I couldn’t move. Like, I literally just wanted to crawl out of my skin.”

Herman stated that she started smoking at the age of 15, meaning it could possibly just be the accumulation of nicotine inhalation over time. Dr. David C. Christiani wrote in The Journal that “about 80% of the persons who vaped and became ill, reported having used both nicotine products and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) products”.

I just remember feeling like absolute… nothing. Like, I just couldn’t do anything.”

— Simah Herman

Another teen named Adam Hergenreder in Gurnee, Ill. who had been vaping for two years, appeared on CNN for possessing the “lungs of a 70-year old” at the age of 18. “To know my 18 year old son… healthy, an athlete, and not being able to breathe… it’s every parent’s nightmare,” Hergenreder’s mother said.

Experts from the Stanford Medical Center state that smoking just one cartridge of nicotine or one Juul pod is equal to an entire pack of cigarettes. “It is still difficult to even do normal activities, like going upstairs. I still get winded from that,” Hergenreder said.

So what is causing this to happen? The real answer is, we don’t know. We don’t know the exact science of what could possibly be putting these teens’ lives on pause. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that the cause could possibly be due to “chemical exposure,” but they are still unsure of what makes this seemingly “harmless gas” so toxic. “CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths,” CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., said.

Even students in WHHS have been strongly affected by this epidemic. Many teachers have stated how much it affects the productivity of their students.

“The other day I had a student that went to the boys’ restroom and he was gone for about 10 minutes… I asked if he was okay and he said he had been waiting to use the restroom because all the restrooms were full with kids and their vaping,” Drew Couch, an English teacher, said. It’s not just in the classroom either, the draw of vaping and wanting to “fit in” has serious long-term effects from a physical and emotional standpoint.