Why Don’t I Vape? My Grandfather’s Cancer.

By Alma Duskic, Managing Editor

My grandfather on my mom’s side was a heavy smoker. His smoking habits led him to develop lung cancer at the young age of 55. My mother was only 14 at the time, and she now had a parent who was terminally ill. My grandfather lived for two years with cancer while he underwent chemotherapy and radiation, but he was too sick, and ultimately he passed away at 57. My mother lost a parent at 16, and this changed her life. My mother never got to experience the huge milestones she accomplished in her life with her father by her side, and this alone turned me away from smoking.

Lung cancer took my grandfather long before my mom met my dad. Deprived of the opportunity to meet my grandfather, I became angry at cigarettes at a young age. I was put off of any device that had anything to do with smoking, and this was a choice that I abide by to this day. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to live to see my children, and hopefully my grandchildren, and if I’m not here to see them, I want to know that I didn’t do anything to invite an early death. I always felt I would look like an idiot if I did anything that could possibly damage my lungs, especially since my family experienced lung cancer.

The vaping epidemic has overtaken the world of teenagers, and it’s hard to find a young person who doesn’t vape these days. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky ones who never caught an interest in these tiny devices, and I escaped the clutches of a nicotine addiction.

I’d like to believe this was due to my good sense of self, and strong conscience, but I would be giving myself too much credit. I was lucky enough never to be heavily influenced by my peers to vape. And, I always was thinking of my grandfather and the effects that smoking had on his and my life.

Vaping is a choice that every individual can make, whether they choose to vape or not. I believe that as people, we need to make informed decisions, and I feel that many teens were thrown into vaping without any real knowledge of what they were even doing. The medical side-effects of vaping are still unknown. People who are vaping now might be completely healthy in 20 or 30 years, or they might not be, just as some people who smoke all of their lives are fine, and others are not. It is still too early to fully grasp what effects vapes may have on the human body, and without knowledge of the alleged risks, I think people should vape with caution. 

Those who continue to smoke cigarettes are well aware of the consequences, but they have the freedom to do as they please, and that is an irrefutable right. I think vaping should be thought of in the same way. Once the side-effects, if any, of vaping come to light, I believe that vape companies should have to state what the side effects are clearly on their devices. This way, before someone even picks up a Juul, for example, they know what could happen if they smoke it, and it’s their choice from there to decide what to do with it.

I don’t believe that anyone deserves to suffer long-term for decisions that they made as a teenager. Our teenage years are a time in our lives to make mistakes and learn from them, and it’s these years that form us into the adults we will become.

At the end of the day, the choice to vape is a personal one. Even if we find out that vapes don’t have any health risks, it won’t affect my decision. I will continue to honor my grandfather’s memory and live my life to the fullest. Because he couldn’t.