This story has been edited to reflect the proper attribution of quotes. A previous version included incorrect attribution.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Has media coverage on the national issue of vaping and vaping-related lung disease hit home? Specifically, has it hit home for teenagers in Utah?
KSL Newsradio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic took their program to Viewmont High in Bountiful to get some perspective from the young people that Utah health officials, educators, and parents hope are getting the message about the potential dangers of vaping.
Lauren and Brooklyn are students at Viewmont High. Brooklyn represents the current sophomore class in student government. Lauren is the junior class vice president.
“I mainly see it in the bathrooms,” Lauren said, “a lot.
“You’ll walk into the bathroom and people will be standing in front of the mirror. Sometimes they’ll go back to the stalls. Sometimes they’ll just stay there,” Lauren told KSL’s Dave and Dujanovic.
“Or sometimes you’ll just smell it in the bathrooms.”
As of October 28, 2019, the Utah Department of Health reported 109 cases of vaping-related lung disease in Utah with another seven potential cases being investigated. So far, one person has died of vaping-related lung disease in Utah. And this week, information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that Utah’s vape-related lung disease was six times the national average.
As of mid-October, 15% of the vaping-related lung disease cases are among people under age 19.
“Usually when I see it,” said Brooklyn, “I just ignore it, because … I don’t want to get on their bad side. And it’s not really something I can do a lot about in that moment, at that time.”
Lauren says nobody has ever offered her a vaping cartridge, but she says she’s seen kids exchange pods. And she says she’s concerned about the kids she’s grown up with who are now vaping.
“It’s scary seeing them and knowing what it can do to you,” she said.
And make no mistake, the young people who spoke to KSL NewsRadio at Viewmont High School have heard about the dangers of vaping. Especially if they are active on social media, where there’s another side to vaping that the media isn’t necessarily talking about.
“If you’re seeing a lot on social media about how bad vaping is then it can definitely discourage you,” Lauren said, “but there’s also a lot on social media for [pro] vaping. So I feel that can encourage them as well.”
“You can open up Instagram and find pro-vaping things or, like, kids talk about it all the time. So that’s also an issue.”
And the teens at Viewmont High School not only hear kids talking about vaping all of the time. They see it.
“We see it all the time,” Brooklyn said.
“We’re used to it,” Lauren added.
And from the mouths of babes, this advice from two teenage girls to parents who may not know how to start the conversation about smoking:
“Part of it is just showing them the dangers of vaping,” said Lauren. “I feel like a lot of kids don’t understand how addictive it is.”
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