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Kids These Days: Vaping comes with consequences. So why do teens do it?

kids these days episode 7
Katie Raymond
Michigan Radio
We know there can be serious consequences to vaping. So why do so many teens continue to do it? In this episode, Grace Wang and Mia Goldstein talk to teens about addiction.

A heads up before we get started: we do talk about the existence of drugs… and vaping specifically. It may not be suitable for younger listeners. If you or a friend are trying to quit vaping, check out some resources to help.


We know there can be serious consequences to vaping. So why do so many teens continue to do it? 

“It's everywhere. It's literally everywhere.”

That’s Lily. She’s in high school. She’s 17 years old. The first time she vaped was in eighth grade but she was just doing it for the flavors, she thought it was dumb. 

But by sophomore year, Suorin Drops, these little, easy to hide vapes shaped like teardrops were becoming super popular. And all her friends had one.

“Once everybody started getting them, like, it just became so normal, like, I was like, oh, if everybody is going to like mess up their life doing that, then like, I might as well, too, you know.” she said.

But what can start as an innocent hit here and there can lead to a full-blown nicotine addiction. Like it did for Lily.


“The first time that I used it and felt like I needed it afterwards was when I was hanging out with this group of people. And we spent the whole night just like passing like vapes around, the next day after that, I was fiending for it.”


She started to really crave the taste and seeing a video of someone vaping or smelling a cigarette could trigger FOMO.


“I just feel like I belong to my addiction, like I feel like I just have to - I don't know if it's if it's around me I have to do it,” she said.


If Lily had known how serious her nicotine addiction would get when she started, would she have done anything differently?


“I want to say no. But it's just so prevalent in like high school society that I probably would have anyway. Like I knew about the risks. And like, I did it anyway, just because everyone else did,” she said.


“And like, it was so normalized and like now everybody who's younger than me or who doesn't vape. I'm like, I swear to God, if you ever start vaping, I'll be so disappointed because it like it's really like taken control of my life and it sucks.”


Sometimes the choice to end your addiction isn’t left up to you. One minute, Daniel, the17-year-old, popular athlete, was just passing time vaping with his friends in the car, hanging out. The next…


“I felt like I couldn't breathe. And that was what sent me to the E.R.”


The doctors had no clue as to what was going on. The X-ray of Daniel’s chest showed that nothing was wrong. He was told he was just a typical, anxious kid having a panic attack.


“But then I woke up one month later. And I had received a double lung transplant,” he said.


A double...lung...transplant.


Hear Daniel’s story in episode 7 of Kids These Days on Apple Podcasts or wherever you like to listen.


Support for Michigan Radio's Kids These Days comes from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and The Children's Foundation.


Want to make sure Michigan Radio continues creating projects like Kids These Days? Donate $20 today right here.

Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Public. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.