Vaping is a dangerous habit that we need to take immediate steps to stop

Humanity must have a death wish.

As a species we choose to ingest substances which have been scientifically proven to have harmful effects on our bodies.

Over the years, we have experimented with LSD, cocaine, heroin, tobacco, and now, vaping.

For those who don’t know the mechanics of this new age vice, a nicotine- or THC-laced (THC is the chemical which causes the high produced by smoking marijuana) liquid is vaporized by an e-cigarette, and then inhaled into the lungs where it apparently has been doing significant amounts of damage.

Just last week, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, in its weekly update on vaping, attributed 39 deaths in 24 states and the District of Columbia to e-cigarette use. Further, it said that 2,051 cases of vaping associated lung injuries had been reported from 49 states (Alaska is the lone exception), the District of Columbia and one US territory.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of lung injury are cough, shortness of breath or chest pain, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills or weight loss. It can develop over the course of several weeks or in just a few days.

That weekly update from the CDC also contained this little nugget of information, the samples of fluid collected from patients suffering lung injuries who vaped contained vitamin e-acetate which, when consumed orally, or applied to the skin, does no harm. However, research suggests that vitamin e-acetate can interfere with the normal function of one’s lungs.

This research and these numbers have been in the news for the last several months but, for whatever reason, we continue to use these products.

The sales of e-cigarette devices have gone from 2.2 million in 2016 to 16.2 million in 2017 and the industry leader Juul forecasts its revenue for this year to be $3.4 billion.

It is estimated that the US market for e-cigarettes will reach $16.5 billion by 2024.

Apparently, as a species, our craving for the high brought on by consuming the THC in e-cigarettes overwhelms the common sense which is telling us that sucking this stuff into our lungs is damaging them.

Given the sub-glacial speed with which our government moves, there is no real hope of legislation to curb the sale of e-cigarettes. Besides, any such attempts would likely be met with a hail of lawsuits launched by the tobacco industry which owns most of the companies producing vaping paraphernalia.

It would seem that the bottom line is that we must be left to our own resources to combat this latest assault on our common sense.

Yes, the choice to ingest any harmful substance is just that, a personal choice. But what rightminded person would willingly make that choice?

It is the equivalent of walking blindfolded across the Indy 500 race track on Memorial Day. You might survive, but chances aren’t good.

So, let’s not take that walk across the race track. Let’s let common sense dictate our choices for a change and not find ourselves in a hospital faced with the prospect, as one vape using patient did, of a double lung transplant.

If we’re going to suck something into our lungs, let it just be air.

This is the last issue of The Settler which it has been my honor to edit. I have been extremely lucky to have had the assistance of a talented staff of writers, photographers and advisors.

Thank you.

–Jim

This is one gold star you don’t want

By Jim Hayes

Typically, this space is reserved for commentary about items which it is thought will resonate with Volunteer State Community College students.

Not so, this week. This week we will attempt to reach an audience that likely includes some of our students, but this message is more likely to connect with Vol State’s faculty and staff.

Yesterday was Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.

It is a day set aside to remember the families who will never again see their sons or daughters who died in service of this country.

The gold star has been around for a long time.

In 1918, the Woman’s Committee of National Defense suggested to President Woodrow Wilson that the mothers of soldiers killed in World War I be allowed to wear a black armband upon which was embroidered a gold star.

In 1936, the United States Congress officially designated the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Mother’s Day.” President Barrack Obama expanded the gold star designation to include all family members in 2009.

But somehow, its commemoration has fallen through the cracks. Perhaps the American people feel that paying their respects on Memorial and Veterans Days is enough (although, those days are more often marked with cookouts and pool parties rather than commemorations of those who served this country).

However, the Gold Star mothers and their families are still here and still grieving.

Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving dinners are still celebrated. But there will always be the feeling that something is missing. Each birthday passes, but there is no longer anyone to bake a cake for, or to hug and congratulate for making it through another year.

This has to be a special kind of torture. One borne silently. The missing family member unacknowledged yet never forgotten.

It is a familial sacrifice, yet one that barely registers on anyone’s radar.

Well, for the record, it made a big blip on ours.

You have our condolences, our sympathy and, if needed, our shoulder to cry on.

Your son or daughter made their sacrifice and yours will go on for the rest of your life.

Nothing will ever replace that empty spot at holidays and birthdays, but know that you will always have our ungarnished gratitude.