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  • Meredith Shaw

Recent Illnesses Reshaping Views on Vaping

By Hank Ciaccio, Masconomet journalism student

In recent news, there have been multiple instances of illness and death across the country that are thought to be related to or even caused by vaping. These events have had a significant effect across the country, eventually leading the Massachusetts government to take action, with Governor Charlie Baker enacting a three-month statewide ban on the sale of vaping products.

Despite the recent deaths and illnesses that have been thought to have been caused by vaping, it is clear that there is a large amount of people that continue to vape. With the major deterrence of death not seeming to play a part in the habits of some students that vape, many think that this is a clear sign that students are addicted and that it could take more than just a warning from others experiences to get them to quit. “I feel like some of the students are still vaping because they’re addicted to the nicotine that’s in the vape and are having a difficult time stopping,” said Kathy Hostetter, the high school nurse at Masconomet. “Plus, a lot of people think, ‘nothing’s going to happen to me.’”

This mindset can be found in people who continue to vape. One reason that causes people to think this way is that they believe that they do not vape enough to either cause harm to themselves or become addicted. One Masconomet senior expressed this by saying, “I just do it for the buzz. I don’t think that I do it too much,” he said. “I still think that there are more positives than negatives, and I think that I’m not addicted.” Other students who vape approach the subject differently. When another senior was asked if they thought that they were addicted, they responded affirmatively. “I mean, I know it’s bad, and I know I’m addicted, but I still feel like I’m doing it for a good reason. It doesn’t feel like it’s bad right now, at least.”

While some students have not come to terms with their addiction, both of the students that were questioned seemed aware of at least some level of danger. According to the CDC, there have been 2,051 cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (also known as EVALI) across the country as of November 5, 2019. More alarmingly, there have been 39 deaths across 24 states. While some of these reported cases (both illness and death) have been traced back to illicit devices containing THC, the fact remains that some cases have been traced back to mass produced legally available devices.

Vaping does not necessarily affect everyone though. There are plenty of students who have not even begun vaping and do not plan to either. It does not take much looking around to find one of these reluctant students, but the reasons for which they decide to not start vaping vary. “I don’t really even see why I would want to start at all,” said one junior who is hesitant to try vaping. “Dying from it isn’t really what worries me, I mean it does, but I also just don’t want to get caught.” A different view was expressed by one senior who has made up his mind about vaping. “No [I won’t vape]. We don’t know anything about any of this,” he said. They also elaborated on these views by stating that they thought it could be worse than smoking, considering that researchers do not yet know the long term effects of vaping.

Masconomet tries to help students that are caught vaping or with a vaporiser by informing them of the dangers of it and pointing them to resources that can help them with their potential addiction. “If we find out students have been vaping, if they are caught in school, we do have hand-outs that we give them,” said Hostetter. “There are different places on the hand-outs that you can call or look up to find ways to stop vaping, along with ways that can help [to stop] their addiction.” Hostetter said that there are other ways that students can help get help outside of the sources listed on the hand-out. “Students can reach out to any of us staff members, and maybe we can direct you someone that might be able to help you to stop, but I think that the first step is admitting that you’re addicted,” she said.

For access to the latest vaping resources specifically geared toward teens, please click HERE.

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