Out of the Smoking Lounge; Into the Hospital: Former Smokers’ Take on the Vaping Epidemic

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Out of the Smoking Lounge; Into the Hospital: Former Smokers’ Take on the Vaping Epidemic

Peter Wujek, Staff Writer

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‘Everyone’s doing it’. ‘It’s the cool thing’. ‘I can stop at any time’. Vaping is an epidemic that is sweeping the nation, in which teens and adults are vaping. This is perhaps an alternative to smoking or a way to fit in. Vaping was introduced as a ‘healthier’ option to smoking in 1963. In the past few years, it has become a normalized teen activity. An opinion that hasn’t been as deeply explored is one of former smokers and their thoughts on vaping.

 

I interviewed Dave and Sarah Amann, who were smokers for about 20 to 30 years. They quit smoking and have strong opinions about the  current vaping epidemic. Dave started smoking when he was in college, because “cigarettes were cheap. In the Navy, [he] could get them for $2.50 a carton” (a carton is 200 cigarettes). Sarah and Dave both got hooked on smoking because of the price and because “really everybody did it then”. The low price and peer pressure in the 1960’s and 70’s led the Amanns to smoking, and it was a hard process quitting. It took Dave a full two years to stop smoking, and it took Sarah a lot longer. In her rehab process, she went to a ‘class’ that really helped her out. They showed her methods on how to stop smoking, and certain turn-offs to smoking, like placing stubs (finished cigarettes) in a jar of water. Whenever the urge to smoke arose, she would smell the jar and be disgusted. Currently, Juul pods cost four dollars each and contain what would be equivalent to one pack of cigarettes (about $20). Sadly, the price is one of the big selling points to vaping. It is relatively affordable to teens in high school, adding to the danger of vaping. Sarah does wish she could’ve tried vaping, which is marketed as the healthy alternative to smoking because it didn’t contain tar and other harmful chemicals. In recent news, vaping has been found to be extremely dangerous, leading to eight death cases, and hundreds of hospitalizations. The vaping-related injuries resemble chemical burns on the victims’ lungs. Right now, there aren’t consequential rehab programs to help vaping addicts. 

 

Vaping is treated as a bad habit instead of a full-on addiction. Sarah thinks that teen vaping is an awful occurrence and says “I just wish they wouldn’t do it. It’s foolish.” She thinks that teens are potentially ruining their adult lives by vaping. Many kids are getting addicted young and staying addicted. Like smoking, teen vaping is, “the cool thing to do”. It’s the peer pressure aspect that makes kids want to try it. Oddly, vaping and smoking have one big difference. Smoking is more social, while vaping is much more private. Smokers seek out other smokers to socialize and smoke together, while vaping is solitary. A person could hit a vape inside, and no one would know. This has aided to the attraction to vaping. As a warning, smoking is still not safe, no matter the socialization, the relative privacy is just a difference between the two. It becomes a portable activity that can be partaken in at any time. 

 

As of right now, five states have banned vaping, with a nation-wide ban on the table. Dave and Sarah both agree that a ban on vaping would lead to more problems. Such as, it would lead to higher demand of vapes. Dave compared it to Prohibition in the 1920’s. Alcohol was banned, but instead of solving the United States problems, it led to more crime and underground activities. Vaping would be no different. 

 

Vaping is a massive epidemic that has already led to deaths and injuries. Former smokers Dave and Sarah hope for a change to vaping. Improved rehab (or rehab at all), the idea of banning vapes, and the understanding of addiction are all addressed by the Amanns. Teens may think vaping prevention is dumb, but their health is on the line.