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     Vaping: To inhale vapor through the mouth from a usually battery-operated device, such as an electronic cigarette, that heats up and vaporizes a liquid or a solid. – Merriam Webster Dictionary

When my grandson’s baseball coach lit up at practice the other day, I was shocked.

No, he didn’t pull out a deck of Luckies. Instead, he tried to discreetly pull on his vapor cigarette.

I don’t know if the kids saw him do it, and the secrecy reminded me of a time when my cousin and I took some purloined cigarettes to the barn to see what it was that adults liked so much.

Thankfully, we didn’t burn down the barn, but the cigarettes made us queasy even though we did not, as Bill Clinton has said, inhale.

Wait, that was another type of cigarette.

In any case, the experience didn’t stop me from taking up smoking in a serious way in college. By the time my children were toddlers, I was thinking I needed to quit so I’d be around to provide for them. I made a resolution to stop smoking on my birthday, but a month before that I was at my desk in the newspaper office when I felt a twinge in my chest. My dad had died of lung cancer only a few years earlier, and so at that moment I thought, why wait to quit?

It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I gained weight. My patience, never a strong suit, grew even shorter. My typewriter wouldn’t work properly without a cigarette to keep me company while I was composing a story.

Thankfully, I made it through the depths of addiction, though it’s only been a few years since I lost the craving altogether.

Even though cigarette use in our state has dropped to less than one in five, today’s youth face the same temptations we did and more, if what I read about drug addiction is factual.

What grabbed my attention a few days ago was a report from the National Youth Tobacco Survey that said more than 20 percent of high school students have tried e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. The study said the percentage is up 77 percent from 2017.

And if that isn’t enough to worry about, another study focuses on vaping using a marijuana extract.

Youth today are exposed to more dangerous temptations than their parents or grandparents. Beer and cigarettes in the 1960s were one thing; meth, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, e-cigarettes, etc., make growing up even harder.

Raising the age for vaping is a step in the right direction. Legalizing marijuana isn’t.

May 29, 2019