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Defusing the Tasty Timebomb & Loving the Lungs You’re With

If there’s one thing that sticks to your brain from reading my words at this moment, love the lungs you’re with.

A moment after my first deep breath this morning, I thought back to my friend Simi. Simi lived in in Room 22W, at Valley West Retirement Center in Eugene, Oregon. The old folks home was my side hustle from the time I was 8 till 15 when I moved with my family to Yorba Linda, California. I played hymns there at Valley West, as I called it, most Sunday mornings.

Old people love a kid who plays the piano or does a trick that they can sing along with! I didn’t get a nickel for it, but it paid me in lessons and love. See, to this day, I love the church hymns I grew up hammering out and hollering along to. Playing hymns is like breathing to me. Without thought. Life giving.

My life till 15 was a good life, in so many ways. It was days after  I moved to Southern California that I started something I swore would never occur. I started smoking. For twenty years, I lit, puffed and tossed to the ground the smoky sticks. I got sick lungs as a result. Which brings me to the biggest health crisis on the planet today – vaping, and the ticking time bombs vaping has implanted in the hundreds of millions who do it.

I’ve never vaped, since I quit smoking eighteen years back. Vaping nicotine is incredibly addicting, and perfectly devised to addict and afllict the lungs of those who call it their “bad habit.” More than a bad habit, vaping is an awful deadly habit that totals the fragile tissue that make up our beautiful pink lungs. It is not better than smoking cigarettes.

“Vaping gave me lungs that make it feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest while I try to grab oxygen from the air I suck in.” That’s how a friend I met in my work advocating for lung health described the state of her lungs after she had for three years. She is now on the lung transplant list. She is unlikely to get new lungs. She is more likely to die from vaping.

She is one of the nearly uncounted who has Vaping Associated Lung Injury (VALI). I use the word uncounted, and it makes me sick even thinking how this has come to be – this no-counting bullshit. The same scoundrels who swore under oath that cigarettes were safe and non-addictive while enslaving a nation are the same ones keeping regulations and data unreliable. They do this by flooding the market with nicotine juice and fake studies that show vaping is not a problem – and in some cases like the FRENCH STUDY, that vaping is a boon to lung health.

On Sunday mornings as a kid at Valley West, Simi was my favorite. I know we’re not supposed to have favorites but she was a fun, full-of-life, gal of just 65, but as the nurse told me “she has bum lungs from smoking two packs a day for 50 years.” At 65, Simi was younger than most there. Simi was also much sicker than most of the other residents, many in their 90s. A lifelong smoker, Simi was the first person I remember witnessing who had super sick lungs. I was ten years old when I first met her. By the age of eleven she had died after incredible suffering.

“Why won’t they fix your lungs,” I asked her. Cussing like sailor, Simi told me she had done it to herself, and there was no fixing lungs like hers, which were no longer able to function and do what they were meant to do.

How about a transplant, I asked Simi.

“Not possible,” she told me as she heaved out the words. “Lung transplants aren’t possible. I should have loved the lungs I’m with,” I remember she gasped resolutely.

I promised her I would never smoke, never ever pick that up as a habit. I believed her. I believed myself as I said what I said. Within four years, I was the start of a statistic – a teen smoker. A statistic reflecting the substance that addicts more on the planet and more easily than anything: NICOTINE. And that’s happening all over again as vaping rates in teens soar after smoking amongst teens dropping for decades.

If you vape or are one of the 2.5 million teens in the USA who vape, there are just 2600 lungs available that get transplanted each year.

If you vape, you are crafting a terrible time bomb in the palm of your hands as the result of those cute sexy colorful, safe-looking vape you lift, hand to mouth, to dose yourself.

The soaring sales of flavored e-cigarettes in the United States and the consequent efforts by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to impose restrictions on them.


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