Lori Falce: Vaping defense is up in smoke | TribLIVE.com
Lori Falce, Columnist

Lori Falce: Vaping defense is up in smoke

Lori Falce
In this Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018 file photo, a woman takes a puff from a cannabis vape pen in Los Angeles. On Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, U.S. health officials are again urging people to stop vaping until they figure out why some are coming down with serious breathing illnesses. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Vaping was supposed to be better than smoking. That was the idea.

It was vapor. Not smoke. All the nicotine with none of the risk. What could go wrong?

A lot.

People are dying. Not from cancer that they contracted after 40 years of sucking on smoke. Not from old lungs made leathery by a pack-a-day habit.

No. The people who are getting sick and dying are young. The average age is 19. And it scares me to death because it doesn’t seem to scare the kids at all.

I’ve seen plenty of posts on Facebook lately comparing the national response to this strange new lung ailment and its handful of deaths to the lack of consensus on guns amid mass shootings. Some of the same kids who are saying they are scared of guns are dismissing the warnings about vaping and scorning the government response that is outlawing the flavored products.

“It’s not the tobacco vapes. It’s the THC ones,” one said.

It is true that some of the 530 cases and seven deaths have been traced to vape fluid featuring THC or CBD. But not all.

Those citing the marijuana angle are informed about the facts that support their position but seem willfully blind to the dangers they don’t want to see, like that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there is no one product, brand or ingredient that can be identified as the culprit.

In short, officials know people are sick and dying. They know vaping is the common thread. They don’t know why.

But the young vapers who don’t want to give up their jellybean-flavored haze are resistant. And that might be the worst disease of all.

People keep becoming more entrenched in their positions, unwilling to yield to any facts that don’t fit the reality they want to create. It isn’t a new disease, but in recent years, it has gotten more aggressive and harder to treat.

It would be easy to say that this is personal choice, much like cigarettes themselves or skydiving or that new KFC doughnut chicken sandwich. Why outlaw something instead of letting people assume the risk?

The answer goes back to age. Of those 530 patients, 16% — or about 85 people — are under 18 and more than half under 25. These aren’t grown-up decisions. This candy-coated smoke is being marketed to kids, and that’s why they are the casualties.

The real solution to smoking isn’t vaping. It’s telling kids — and adults — the truth about inhaling foreign substances for fun.

And the truth is simple. It’s dangerous.

Lori Falce is a Tribune-Review community engagement editor. You can contact Lori at [email protected].

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