The Final Blow: Gaby Yap Column


Gaby Yap, asst. opinions editor

I was 13 the first time I vaped.

The summer after I graduated eighth grade, I would often spend time biking around my neighborhood. My routine consisted of a visit to the library,  buying an overly sweet drink from Dunkin’, and passing by my old middle school’s playground on my way home.

It was on one of these days when a former classmate approached me from the playground, stopped me on my bike, and held out a sweet-smelling, bright yellow stick: my first hit of nicotine. 

I will never see that playground the same ever again.

After that day, I felt wracked with guilt. As soon as I biked away, all I could think was whether or not this would be the start of a new addiction, and I hadn’t even gotten to high school yet. I made the decision that this is not who I wanted to be as a high schooler. 

While I was fortunate enough to leave my vaping experiences confined to that day, I still find myself thinking about what would have happened if I had not left it there. Would I be scraping up cash to buy vape pens? Would I be in my room blowing smoke rings while I’m doing my homework? What really keeps me thinking, however, is knowing there are others who lost a part of their innocence as young as I did but were not lucky enough to stop. 

Anyone can talk about how bad vaping is for you and the traumatic effects it can have, but I believe the real kicker to vaping is how accessible it is to such a young generation. 

Our minds in middle school are impressionable, way too impressionable for one to be introduced to an addictive substance. Yet, there are middle school students whose siblings or friends have “plugs” (kids in high school) selling them pens. As high schoolers, it’s important that we aren’t that sibling or friend. It may seem fine to earn extra cash off these kids, but soon enough they’ll be in high school too, keeping the same nicotine-fueled cycle turning. 

I want to remember my childhood the best I can, and that wouldn’t be possible if it was all foggy with smoke. As role models for future high schoolers, current high schoolers should not allow anyone to think that vaping is “normal”, because seeing a 13-year-old on the street exhaling smoke should never be normal.