A growing epidemic

An inside look on the damage vapor smoke does to lungs

An unscientific poll taken by the North Platte Bulldogger, October 9. among 236 students at North Platte High School. When asked if Juuling is harmful, this is how students responded.

In 2003, China introduced a product that would later result in more problematic lung issues: vapor cigarettes.

The respiratory therapy supervisor at Great Plains Health, Andy Gochenour, believes that the reason vaping has become more problematic is that it’s been advertised. They have advertised it in a way so it draws more teens into buying the products by saying they’re safe. Over time the medical field has proven that to be false.  “What we’re finding out now is that they are not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking cigarettes damages the elastin in the lungs which reduces your lung’s ability to expand and contract. When your lungs don’t expand it affects your breathing by not allowing your lungs to stretch and shrink back.

The vapor that’s being inhaled into the lungs is causing more problems throughout our lungs than just the elastins. “We are having lung tissue damage and where we run into a problem with that is it obliterates that lung tissue the lungs are unable to function,” Gochenour said. 

The North Platte Bulldogger sent out a survey about Juuling among the student body on Oct. 9. Out of 236 students, 42.3 percent believe that 50 to 79 percent of the students Juul. Over time, people have started participating in popular things that others are doing, like Juuling. “My sister told me to try her Juul, so that’s what got me started on Juuling,” said senior Taylor Chitty.

An unscientific poll taken by the North Platte Bulldogger, October 9. among 236 students at North Platte High School. When asked where students vape, this is how students responded.

The particle size of the smoke does make a difference to the damage of the lungs. Traditional cigarette smoke particles are about five microns in size. A micron is a unit of length of size that’s equal to one-millionth of a meter. Some e-cigarettes particle size that they advertise is 0.019 microns in size.“Your body can filter out the five microns and it doesn’t get down in the lung tissue at the cellular level. The water vapor that’s 0.019 to 3 microns goes past your body’s natural defense mechanisms down into the tissue and that’s where it actually does the damage,” Gochenour said.

According to Gochenour, second-hand smoke is also something that can come from the water vapor that’s released from the devices. “The damage is just as bad as second-hand smoke [from cigarettes] because anything you inhale into your lungs that’s not air is dangerous.”

Some advertising can be false to draw consumers’ attention to their products. “There is not one single Juul product out there, regardless of flavoring or advertising that has zero nicotine,” said Gochenour.

Although peer pressure is prevalent among teens, Gochenour insists that you can separate yourself from groups that put you in those situations. “Don’t buy into the hype, if you are going to do something think about the long term consequences, and if you’re ready to live with them.”

Illustration by the courtesy of the editorial cartoonist Jakob Fisher.