When LCCC student Ruben was 38, he started vaping CBD. Now 41, he can recall how his health started dwindling in the weeks following the start of this new smoking habit. “There would be an itchiness in my chest along with the sensation of always needing to cough. The back of my throat [felt] sore and itchy.” Although these health issues were self-diagnosed, he claims that when he stopped vaping so did these issues.
However, Ruben, who doesn’t want to reveal his last name, is not alone. Another LCCC student named, Nashalie, started vaping at the age of 16 for two months. Just like Ruben, Nashalie said, “I noticed my throat being mostly sore and coughing a lot.” At the time Nashalie didn’t know much about the chemicals used in vaping products, but she did know that vaping has nicotine in it and can become addicting. When asked about the current deaths that surround vaping today, Nashalie said, “I will not vape again.”
Recently there has been eight known deaths from lung illnesses that are related to vaping. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate or do testing on the ingredients involved with vaping. Over the past years, there has been the creation of devices such as E-Cigarettes, Mods, and JUULS. All these devices claim to be more beneficial and healthier than smoking cigarettes. This means that companies that produce these devices and flavors are not required to inform people everything that is used to create these substances.
According to Lisa Augustine, who is the interim Dean for the Health and Wellness Science Division at LCCC, vaping “can impact a person’s breathing, the chance of getting lung cancer, or the cells in a person’s lungs to become inflamed.” Augustine said “There is no such thing as inhaling anything safely. What I have noticed is that adults who have serious health issues or have died from smoking cigarettes have taken part in this addicting habit long term wise. Children today are dying at a young age from something that may be related to vaping. This means that whatever this is, is fast acting and serious.”
Harry Kestler, who has a PhD and is a Professor of Microbiology at LCCC, also said “Whatever this is looks serious and is becoming a new current problem to the point where it could be the beginning of an epidemic.”
Kestler said that “We live in a time period where legal and illegal things are intermixing. This creates confusion. For example, a vape cartridge may look like it is being manufactured by proper companies, making it seem like these are the only companies who can make these devices and flavorings. When in fact, anyone can be making them. These cartridges look so official that it can create false trust.”
It is possible that the human population may be abusing these vape devices because these devices were never meant for permanent usage. These devices were initially used to ween people off smoking cigarettes and then eventually off smoking in general.
Kestler said, “stopping smoking cigarettes was the best thing I could have done for my health. Luckily the damage I did to myself from years of smoking was reversible.”
Not all side effects of smoking can be irreversible though. It begins to beg the question of why people continue to vape when there is so much obscurity on the topic.
Although, it seems that these incidents are only related to young adults and teenagers, they are not. Jacob Kestler, the son of Harry Kestler, works at LCADA Way (Leadership, Compassion, Awareness, Dedication, and Advocacy) as a school-based counselor. With being a counselor, his job is entitled of visiting schools around Lorain County and working alongside children with alcohol abuse and, the most recent topic, vaping. According to Jacob Kestler, “a lot of kids are in denial about the warnings of vaping.”
He also believes that getting through the younger generations and warning them before they become addicted to vaping or trying vaping may be more beneficial than warning them after they have already vaped. Jacob said, “for seventh or eighth graders it may already be too late. The youngest I have witnessed was a nine-year-old in fifth grade who was caught using a JUUL during school.”
If this becomes an epidemic more businesses will require more people to take drug tests. By doing this, this will ensure that companies are hiring well abled and healthy employees’ long term. This may cause an issue for some people when it comes to vaping and if in need of help you can reach out to Lisa Augustine who is the Tobacco-Free Campus Coordinator.
Angela Andujar contributed to the story