Giovanni said he never touched a vape or cigarette while a student at the private high school, Allendale-Columbia. He started experimenting with what are known as “box mods” shortly after beginning his freshman year at college. Box mods allow users to blow “big smoke rings,” said Giovanni, “and I thought that was a cool trick.”
Over time, he became addicted to nicotine, and he was unaware that he was taking in more than an entire cigarette’s worth – sometimes in just one inhale. He also started using cannabis oil and developed “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome,” a condition that leads to repeated and severe bouts of vomiting. Giovanni became severely dehydrated while on a family trip this past September, leading to a visit to the emergency room. He was discharged after receiving intravenous fluids, but shortly after returning home, his condition deteriorated.
“Once I got back home, my lungs bloomed and that’s when it really got bad,” he said. “A normal person has 12 to 20 breaths per minute and I was at 40 to 50. I was huffing and puffing, and coughing up blood.”
Giovanni’s stepmother found him in bed and rushed him back to the hospital, where he would spend the next eight days.
Before the first visit to the ER, Giovanni said his parents knew nothing of his vaping. He said it was easy to keep the small devices out view. And, the black market cartridges were easy to buy, both at college and home, said Giovanni.
“There are a lot of people that are probably in the same situation I was in,” he said. “They are struggling with not only nicotine addiction, but also getting these carts from sources that are not reliable or safe. I didn’t think it would happen to me. I saw the commercials, and I thought ‘man that sucks,’ but that’s not going to happen to me. I was naïve.”
The talk and other Great American Smokeout activities are being coordinated by FLCC’s Wellness is Now Committee. For information, contact committee Co-Chair Patricia Zimmer at Patricia.Zimmer@flcc.edu or (585) 785-1638.