It's been more than 50 years after the federal government put warnings on cigarettes. And people are well aware of the extensive testing that drug companies go through before they can bring life-saving medication to market because of regulations intended to keep the public safe. Sometimes, though, the regulations fail us.
One mom said she let the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have it when they came to her house to investigate after her son became incredibly ill due to vaping. She felt betrayed that the regulators approved all these vaping products that ended up destroying her son's lungs and have killed other teens and adults.
“I’m glad to see you here,” Candy McKnight recounted she told the investigators in a story in PEOPLE. “But where the hell were you four years ago when you approved these stupid things [to be sold]?!”
Candy's son 19-year-old son Walker apparently had a somewhat brief habit of using mango-flavored pods in a Juul e-cigarette, and doctors believe that caused his illness. His left lung was destroyed, as well as both of his kidneys. Walter spent five months in a hospital, most of it on a respiratory fighting for his life, and while he is recovering at home now, eventually he needs to have a lung and kidney transplant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have labeled vaping-related illnesses an epidemic, and the habit has been linked to nearly 50 deaths this year. Walker has survived, although his life and his health have suffered immensely.
The Orlando hospital where Walker fought for his life has treated six more vaping victims, and while warnings have since gone out about the Juul products, the FDA hasn't taken all vaping products off of the market.
Some people believe that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking, but what was once considered a good way to help people beat their regular cigarette habit has turned into a trend that teens are trying without ever being addicted. But e-cigs still have nicotine, and people still aren't certain of the long-term health impacts.
People — especially teens — can be lulled into thinking that just because something is sold in stores that it is safe, but the vaping illnesses prove to all of us that we need to be more vigilant in thinking about our health.
We're glad that Walker is OK, but there are too many teens that didn't make it, and we hope that their stories can go on to dissuade other kids from ever trying e-cigarettes.