GIBRALTAR, Mich. – A senior at Carlson High School noticed that some fellow students were still vaping at school, so she got the perfect person to come in and speak to everyone.
The teen vaping epidemic is a major concern, with a recent student finding 29% of e-cigarette users had started by age 14.
Isabella DeGroat said she would see her classmates vaping every day, even though it’s not allowed at school. She said students would vape in the bathroom and even in class.
“The stronger that addiction becomes, the more difficult it’s going to be to stop,” DeGroat said. “I have (vaped), and I don’t like it. The feeling of having a dependency on these things -- it feels almost like you’re weak.”
She invited cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Hassan Nemeh to her school to speak to students about the health risks. While DeGroat chose to quit, many of her classmates still regularly choose to vate.
“I will literally see them with a vape, just standing in the bathrooms, or they’ll even go in the stalls,” DeGroat said. “I’ve seen kids in the middle of a classroom, like, put their sleeve up to their mouth and hit a vape.”
“I feel that it is my mission, that I need to reach out to these kids and educate them about the ill effects,” Nemeh said.
Nemeh is the perfect person to speak to the students because he performed the first lung transplant on record on a teenager for a vaping-induced injury.
“It’s very painful to see a young, promising life that should have a long future and big dreams and become helpful to society and contribute to potentially lose all that potential because of a habit of this nature,” Nemeh said.
With somewhat graphic visuals of the potential damage to their lungs, Nemeh hopes his talk resonates.
“Be wary of the consequences of things that you might do under peer pressure, things that are not necessary,” Nemeh said. “For example, vaping -- it’s not something we need to maintain our normal lives.”
“Before you do anything, before you make any decision, know what you’re doing,” DeGroat said.
Students who attended Thursday’s talk were middle schoolers from Shumate Middle School. The goal was to educate them before they consider vaping.