2019 brought with it a rash of illnesses and deaths attributed to vaping, and it’s important to know the facts about these occurrences. At PRIDE, one of our many responsibilities to the community is to stay up-to-speed on these trends and to create awareness on how to avoid falling into the trap of addiction.
Recap: How many kids are vaping?
Hard to know for sure, but as a person who works in drug prevention and provides programming to students and professionals in the field, here’s a rough guess: 30-50% of middle school students and 50-80% of high school students are vaping on a regular basis. I’m not telling you that these are official numbers… I’m just telling you what the students tell us. Those are their estimates. And yes, this is in West Alabama.
Will vaping kill you?
The short answer is, it depends on what you are vaping and if we are talking short-term or long-term. Most of the vapes that have led to immediate health problems or death have been attributed to homemade or black-market THC e-liquids (THC is the active ingredient in marijuana which makes you high). I don't have the space to go into the chemical details here, but this is one of the major problems…
Students pass around vaping products like candy, and there is literally know way of knowing what is in their vape juice. There are thousands of e-liquids on the market and even more available on the internet. Almost anything can be dissolved in propylene glycol which is used as a base in many of the liquids. Our staff have found juices that were labeled as just nicotine or CBD that contain THC, synthetic marijuana, PCP, and even opioids just to name a few.
But at a minimum they likely contain nicotine, and we shouldn't want our kids to be addicted to anything. Nicotine is an incredibly addictive substance that can easily lead to long-term usage – just ask someone who has been smoking or dipping for many years how hard it is to stop. We do not have data on what long-term vaping of PG/VG based liquids has on our health, similar to how we didn't know cigarettes would cause cancer.
There’s a lot more where this came from. For more info on vaping and help quitting, visit our website at prideoftuscaloosa.org and come to one of our community seminars.
I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.
Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and a writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and their daughters, Savannah and Anica.