Nic sick: Teen reacts to Canada’s first serious vaping illness

Story by CBC Kids News • 2019-09-19 15:10

‘Never touching a vape again,’ teen says

Tyler Barone remembers the first time he got "nic sick."

He was hanging out at a friend’s house, chatting and vaping — and then it dropped like a bomb.

“It comes over you like a wave,” the 18-year-old Montrealer said. “You feel like you’re about to pass out, you’re really dizzy and then there’s chronic vomiting.”

“It’s like having a really bad flu,” he said. “No one wants to experience that.”

That was one of the reasons Tyler decided to quit vaping for good about five months ago — five years after he started.

It also helps explain why he wasn’t surprised to hear that a high school student in Ontario was put on life support after coming down with a serious illness linked to vaping.

In this case, it was a respiratory illness — meaning it affected their breathing. 

When the news came out on Sept. 18, health officials said it was the first known case of its kind in Canada. 

The teen has now been released from hospital and is doing fine.

But an investigation is underway by Canada’s chief medical officer of health to figure out exactly what happened.

There have been hundreds of similar cases in the United States, including at least seven deaths.

Girl blows puff of vapour as she vapes.

Vaping is the word used to describe what happens when you inhale vapour — often containing nicotine — using a vape pen or e-cigarette. (Aliaksandr Barouski/Shutterstock)

In Canada, it’s illegal for anybody under the age of 18 to buy vaping products.

They’re highly addictive and some researchers say vaping can lead to smoking.

Tyler remembers having to fight the urge to vape.

“It’s not fun craving something,” he said. “You can’t focus.”

Tyler Barone said he first tried an e-cigarette in Grade 8. He experimented with vaping off and on for about five years, but now he says he’s quit for good. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Tyler said it’s hard to tell if other students at his school, John Abbott College, are taking the warnings about vaping seriously.

“It’s hard to pinpoint where we’re at,” he said, but in general “people don’t listen until it’s too late.”

In the meantime, Tyler said he’s happy to put vaping behind him for good — and to speak out about why he quit.

“I am never touching a vape again. That’s 100 per cent for sure.”

Teen in hoodie blows puff of vapour out of his mouth.

There have been hundreds of severe respiratory illnesses linked to vaping in the U.S., but experts are calling this a first for Canada. (Jonathan Dupaul/CBC)

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