Guyanese youngsters are confronted with yet another challenge during their vulnerable years. Schools, peer pressure, gangs, are potential breeding grounds; awareness and vigilant supervision are among the key factors standing against what could endanger our children.
“At School, ‘Everyone Vapes,’ and Adults Are in Crisis Mode.” That is an extract from the New York Times of September 20. This week New York City recorded its first related death. Since many local adults and children are slavish imitators of things American, this latest in reckless experimentation could be a problem here, too. Ecstasy is present, alcohol is prevalent, and vaping could be an emerging threat in Guyana.
Authorities have been diligent in alerting young and old about the dangers of vaping. Vaping is “an alternative to cigarettes that works by heating liquid and turning it into vapor to be inhaled.” Similar concerns exist over the THC ingredient in black market marijuana. This is all disturbing. For on the face of it, this latest fad sounds available enough, easy enough, and fun enough to dabble with yet another American teenage pursuit for the thrill, the cool, and the insider status that such a perilous exercise brings.
The New York Times revealed that, “Opportunities to vape discreetly are everywhere…an empty hallway, a bathroom stall or the back row of a classroom where a teacher cannot possibly monitor every student’s move”. It’s so easy that the temptation to try might prove to be irresistible right here among youths.
Adventurous foreign teens confirmed that temptation, opportunity, and practice are all widespread. Listen to them. When one teenager heard of a survey that reported, “one in four youths between the ages of 12 and 17 have tried vaping….” Her retort was alarming: “that’s too low,” since “Literally everyone vapes,” and according to others “vaping is the big thing.”
The health hazards are severe and should serve as warning and serious deterrent to students inclined to gamble, and parents who should make it their duty to be extra watchful. Scientifically, government health officials are still uncertain as to the precise causes of certain respiratory sicknesses. Investigators have been unable to identify exactly what is causing the lung damage, or even how many harmful substances are involved. The lung damage in some people who have become ill after vaping…resembles a chemical burn, top doctors reported. “All 17 of our cases show a pattern of injury in the lung that looks like a toxic chemical exposure…” said Dr. Brandon T. Larsen, a surgical pathologist at the Mayo Clinic. (NYT).
The mystery and perils were emphasized by the Wall Street Journal on October 2. The Mayo Clinic has all but ruled out vitamin E oil and other thickeners as the possible culprit in a wave of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. Instead, the clinic pathology team reported in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday that the lung tissue they examined suggests the damage was more likely caused by inhaling a caustic chemical fume.
The news is all bad. There are numerous underground brands, no standards for “vape juice” mixtures and scant knowledge about the health effects of inhaling heated chemical vapors. The warning for all Guyanese citizens is that vaping is damaging and could be deadly.
Guyanese principals and teachers are taking no chances and are going into overdrive through aggressive containment approaches that take the fight to this newest menacing chemical enemy. Parents must be in the forefront of watchfulness.
As the Times noted, educators “are getting creative with rules to make it harder for students to secretly vape in school bathrooms, hallways and even classrooms.” Moreover, they have roped in parents by alerting them to the dangers, through offering guidance on how to identify the paraphernalia of vaping, which can assume the most innocent and ordinary appearance. For example, everyday school gadgets such as pens or flash drives are highlighted for the opportunities they present to those inclined to the dangerous pastime of vaping.
The last word to children, teachers, and parents is best summed up by an editorial in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Bluntly stated, people should refrain from vaping and e-cigarettes should never be used by nonsmokers. The Guyanese motto should also be never.
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