Shania Miles, Opinions Editor

A boy, no older than the age of fourteen, walks into the hospital with a mere headache and shortness of breath. Then his vision fades to black. He awakens in a bed not his own, and looks to his mom to say something but can’t, for the tube down his throat prohibits him from even being able to breath of his own will. Turns out he has been vaping for a few months, the banana flavor mostly. His lungs are failing and the antibiotics aren’t working anymore, so now he and his family must wait for the inevitable.


There are over one thousand cases of vaping related illnesses and there are nineteen deaths related to it. 


Just last month there were eight hundred cases and twelve vaping related deaths.


Those who are affected come in to the hospital with small cases of shortness of breath, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, chest pain, cough or fever. 


Then they end up prolonging their stay with an intravenous (IV) injected in them, a breathing tube stuck in their throat, chemical burns in the lungs, and doctors baffled with no real idea on how the people got sick and specifically how to treat them.


E-Cig (JUUL) is a vape device that looks like a flash drive and comes with nicotine liquid (juice) flavors. People, particularly teens, use the device for vaping. Vaping is when you inhale and exhale the vapor from the heated nicotine liquid.


A cigarette and e-cig are similar in that they both contain a substance known as nicotine. Nicotine is harmful and just as addictive as heroin and cocaine, and juuls allow you to get a larger dose of nicotine by simply increasing the voltage until you get your desired “buzzzz.”


The vape itself has questionable substances other than nicotine—some that are even poisonous—like cinnamaldehyde, aldehydes, acetaldehyde, acetone, lead, propanal, toluene (which is commonly added to gasoline), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and vitamin E acetate, which are common among the sweet and sour flavored vapes. Looking at the list, it’s no surprise that there are over one thousand cases of vaping related illnesses, and these numbers are increasing rapidly. 


So why would teens continue to vape?


Maybe it’s because of the more than ten thousand flavors that range from sweet and yummy smells like marshmallow to odd ones like the milk flavor. At least that’s what health professionals like the FDA believe.


The attractiveness of flavors worried the FDA even before the issue of vaping came into light. It seemed to them that vaping companies had intended to target teens with flavors like bubblegum or cotton candy that are typical of an average teen’s or kid’s top food choice.


The FDA went as far as to try to ban the flavors except for one’s like tobacco, but faced opposition from vaping companies like Vape A Vet. These companies claimed that the FDA had no real evidence about their supposed marketing to children, but the real reason was that the flavors were the lifeblood of e-cigarette sales and ending them would hurt vaping companies’ economies tremendously. The FDA, feeling bad for the vaping companies, backed down and ended talks of the ban.


That is until the very next month.


Next-month vaping and teen JUUL sales skyrocketed more than 640 percent, blindsiding the world with its first vaping phenomenon.


Now the FDA is trying to stop teen use of e-cigs through informational campaigns for the youth, educational messages on TV, digital platforms, and large posters in high school bathrooms. They even did a draft compliance policy where they tried to stop how accessible e-cigarettes are to teens; this I could understand, as I had attempted to go on an e-cig site and was able to visit it with ease.


But public officials plead for more and more action.


As I began to see the dark truth about vaping, I became quiet and stunned.


Before, I had only been exposed to vaping on social media sites like Snapchat, where kids would usually show and promote their new JUULs and the cool tricks they could do like the Ghost Inhale. 


This is similar to the way regular cigarettes began, as tobacco companies found new ways to promote cigarettes: in lounges and concerts, through commercial outlets like t-shirts, or in sponsoring cultural tradition-based events. Tobacco companies even went as far as giving them out during the World Wars to supposedly give the troops a morale boost. 


They tried for so long to normalize tobacco use in the world.


For two thousand years tobacco has been consumed, and it wasn’t until the twentieth century that people began to find out the truth about the dangers of smoking or consuming tobacco. They soon began to understand the tobacco companies ill-intent and the disastrous truth behind what they previously saw as harmless and cool. People have finally learned the dangers of smoking cigarettes that tobacco companies tried so hard to conceal.


What tobacco companies did before is just like what vaping companies are doing today: hiding the truth about the vape and what it can do to your health.


Now when I see these people, the majority being teens, I can’t help but think “Idiots.” However, I don’t mean that as an insult, for it’s not their fault that they live in a time where ignorance is bliss. The reality is that they don’t know the dangers of what they’re doing.


“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – Unknown


But I have one question: if cocaine suddenly came in multiple flavors, would you do it?