Vaping is a relatively new word. It rhymes with taking. Indeed. It takes from your lungs as surely as does smoking a cigarette. You are breathing smoke and filling your lungs with smoke, or “vapor,” as surely as if you were smoking a cigarette. Do not be fooled. Vaping is smoking.

There was a time when the word vaping did not exist. It comes from the word vapor, and has something to do with the workings of that contraption that you use when vaping.

It always seemed to me that smokers have a choice. Nobody ever forced them to smoke that first cigarette. I have asthma. I didn’t have a choice about having asthma.

God bless Dr. Voccio. He is the pulmonologist whom I go to for treatmentment of my asthma. He prescribed a corticosteroid inhaler which I use twice a day. My asthma is well-controlled, and I am exceedingly grateful.

Dr. Voccio treats patients with respiratory issues. His patients have issues like emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. Many of Dr. Voccio’s patients are smokers. I know this because I’ve sat in his waiting room many times and heard the unmistakable hacking cough of a smoker. Those patients caused their respiratory issues by smoking. They’ve ruined their lungs!

Doctors like to treat their patients, seeing them improve and get well. However, doctors don’t always have cooperative patients. I envision Dr. Voccio admonishing his patients to quit smoking. Further, I imagine it to be frustrating for him to treat his patients who smoke and are suffering from respiratory ailments but they will not quit smoking. I wonder what Dr. Voccio thinks about vaping.

Although I’m not sure, I think the origins of vaping have to do with allegedly helping people to quit smoking. In 2007, I had never heard of vaping until a friend of my son’s began vaping. His friend smoked three packs of cigarettes daily. He began vaping in an effort to quit smoking. Ultimately, he was vaping far more than he ever smoked cigarettes. He thought vaping was less detrimental to his health than smoking cigarettes. Because vaping is smoking, he couldn’t have been more wrong.

Vaping incident at local high schoolVaping has become trendy. Consider the vaping incident which took place last week at a local high school. The name of the 18-year-old student, who was arrested, is named in the Floyd County Jail report, as well as the charges brought against him. The 18-year-old will now have two misdemeanors and two felonies on his record.

The 18-year-old student sold a vaping item with an oil suspected of containing an 80% to 85% concentration of THC. As you probably know, THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. He allegedly sold the item to a student claiming the oil was a nicotine derivative. The student who bought the item got sick and required medical attention.

I wonder if the 18-year-old was beginning his senior year of high school. He didn’t get through the first day of school without getting arrested. Can you even get accepted to college when you have an arrest record for the commission of multiple felonies?

Vaping is not less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Regrettably, there is no end in sight to this exasperating trend. Vaping is smoking.

Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a writer, avid cyclist, history enthusiast and ardent reader of Southern fiction. Readers may email her at pamterrellwalker@gmail.com.