Photo edit of a teen vaping.
Photo edit of a teen vaping.

A heartbreaking story from North Carolina that serves as a stark reminder of the potential risks of vaping. A mother, Charlene Zorn, is grieving the sudden loss of her teenage stepson, Solomon Wynn, and she’s urging everyone to be more aware of the dangers of e-cigarettes.

Vaping devices usually originate from China. They are designed to deliver nicotine or THC (a compound found in marijuana) in a mist or aerosol form, which resembles the output of a vaporizer – hence the name ‘vapes.’ It’s widely believed that these devices are intentionally marketed towards kids, as they frequently feature flavors akin to sweet treats and candies, like “blue razz ice” or “strawberry ice cream.”

As per the FDA’s report in 2022, the prevalence of e-cigarette usage among U.S. middle and high school students reached over 2.5 million, which corresponds to approximately 1 in 10 students. Within this group, about 2.14 million high school students (making up 14.1% of the total) and 380,000 middle school students (accounting for 3.3% of the total) reported actively using e-cigarettes within the past 30 days.

Identifying if a child is vaping can be quite challenging. Most times, the only detectable sign might be a faint sweet scent, as vaping doesn’t produce the distinct tobacco smell or other common smells linked with smoking.

Vapes are usually available at various gas stations and smoke shops, often sold illegally despite many state laws prohibiting their sale. Wholesale costs for these vapes are estimated at around 5-10 cents per unit, but they’re typically retailed for between $10-$30 depending on the device.

Solomon was a typical, active 15-year-old who loved playing football. However, a severe cough took hold of him.

“He was seen by his family doctor due to a bad cough,” recounts Charlene. “They thought it was bronchitis.”

But despite following their doctor’s advice, Solomon’s health didn’t improve, so they were referred to a lung specialist. It was then they discovered Solomon had been vaping.

Solomon’s parents had no idea that he had been introduced to vaping by his friends. When asked by the doctor, Solomon was honest about his habit. His health took a rapid downward turn, getting to a point where a mere five-minute walk left him struggling for breath.

Sadly, Solomon’s life was tragically cut short. One day, he collapsed. The doctors discovered fluid in his lungs and around his heart. He was put on a ventilator in the hospital, but despite their best efforts, they couldn’t save him.

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