Justin Blowers

Vaping is really taking over the news cycle lately with all the mysterious vaping-related illnesses that are coming to light.

The government is already acting to put the industry on hold and take all these different flavors off the shelf, but I question if that’s really necessary.

Now, as a disclaimer, I do not vape. Have I ever vaped? Not really. I’ve used a vape before both with and without nicotine but it’s never been a habit. Do I have friends that vape? Yes, quite a few actually.

Now then, let’s talk about stats. According to the Center for Disease Control, vaping related cases are up to 530 in America, which is a lot. In fact, another person died from an illness not too long ago, which brings the total count to eight deaths this year.

Is it terrible? Yes.

Is it a crisis? That’s much harder to answer.

The CDC says that cigarettes kill about 480,000 Americans a year, which is far more than vapes with the current information.

This isn’t about whether vapes are better or more harmful than cigarettes though, it’s about whether or not we should be placing the blame squarely at the feet of the industry.

Let’s start with the more legal side of things first as far as where problems can go wrong. Vapes take maintenance. If you don’t clean the coils that burn the liquid, drops can get through. If you don’t replace the coils, they burn out. You can also burn out coils by using too high voltage of a battery.

Should we really be pulling vapes and flavors off the shelves if this is the cause of the illnesses? Is it really the company’s fault if a person doesn’t take care of their vape?

Are you going to return your car to the dealership because your engine is worn out since you never replaced the oil? Of course not so why are we jumping onto the backs of the industry for what could be a potential cause of the problem?

People also modify their vapes to get bigger clouds or more nicotine or even just to look cooler. If someone modifies their vape wrong and they’re injured or the vape doesn’t work right, is it on the companies that provided the parts?

Are you going to blame the people who provided the steel when the product you get is welded wrong? No. So why are we jumping down this industry’s neck with regulations?

Another cause that people seem to glance over is the secondary or knock-off market. There are cheap vape cartridges out there that you can get for cheap. People aren’t out here buying only official branded vape juices and cartridges.

If they were, there wouldn’t be people having THC vapes in states where it’s not legal. If the chemical make up of the oil is wrong or the cartridge doesn’t fit just right or those coils you bought aren’t up to snuff because they were a bit on the cheap side and possibly a knock-off, is it really the industry’s fault?

No. You can find cheap versions of pretty much everything on the market but those things are still there. Having the stereotypical “Chinese knock-off” version of a product is inveitable when anything becomes popular. So if that is what’s being used, it’s not really the industry’s fault.

Finally, let’s talk about the kids. People want to pull the vapes off the shelf for the honorable reason of the amount of kids smoking them. That, again, leads to the last point about knock-offs.

Kids aren’t legally allowed to buy vapes so they’re buying like half-smoked catridges from people or the Chinese knock offs that don’t require age verification or from that one guy who doesn’t really care as long as you look the right age.

Most of the time, they’re not even starting out with the product at 100 percent, it may even be a damaged product. Then you add the responsibility of maintenance and them not being able to buy maintenance equipment for it because they’re under the age and everything spirals from there.

Vaping is definitely affecting the nation, and the response seems to be to demonize the industry that started out with good intentions, to just pull everything now and regulate later.

I’m just saying that if we really want to address teen vaping, the vaping illnesses and any future problems that may arise in the new industry, this can’t be the reaction. We cannot tunnel vision in on one problem when there could be so many. We need to take time and formulate a plan with information to address the different problems that could be causing these things.

If we don’t, then we’re really just hurting everyone more but not actually addressing the problem.

Speaking of addressing the problem, Enterprise High School will be hosting a drug, cyber and vape awareness seminar in the PAC on Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. This seminar can provide you with additional details and information that I do not have space in this column to provide.

It’s a pleasure to see the community trying to raise awareness instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to all the news in the media.

With all this being said, I ask: is vaping itself truly the problem?

Justin Blowers is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are his own and not the opinion of the paper. He can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at sjblowers@southeastsun.com.

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