BOSTON (CBS) – A Newburyport mother says her son’s vaping addiction got so bad, he was diagnosed with a restrictive lung condition.
Kristin Beauparlant’s son was the captain of the Newburyport hockey team, until he was benched in his senior year once he was caught smoking his Juul, a popular electronic cigarette, in school. “He’d be skating and he wouldn’t even be able to skate a full shift for the hockey team without having to come off because he was so short of breath,” his mom explained.
After he got in trouble, his parents brought him to Massachusetts General Hospital, where they discovered he had developed lung issues from four years of smoking the Juul.
“It was horrible,” Kristin Beauparlant told WBZ-TV. “It was something that I still look back on and think what could I have done? What could I have recognized sooner? Should I have gotten him help sooner? But I honestly had no idea.”
She says her son thought the Juul was just flavored water vapor. “I believe strongly that he never would’ve picked up a traditional cigarette,” she said. “But he even said it was the flavors and the social media that inspired him to give it a try.”
Her son is now in his freshman year of college and is still working to wean himself off the Juul.
It’s stories like Beauparlant’s that inspired Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to propose a ban on menthol and mint flavored e-cigarette cartridges at stores that are accessible to teens. The city of Boston already has a ban on fruity flavored cartridge sales at convenience stores.
“There’s no question these companies are marketing towards our young people, just like cigarettes did 50 years ago,” Walsh told WBZ.
In the US, 530 cases of vaping-related illnesses have been reported. A suspected 38 cases have been reported in Massachusetts.
Kristin Beauparlant said her son originally didn’t even know the Juul contained nicotine. He thought it was flavored water vapor.
According to Alicia Kirschman, a local smoke shop employee, It’s a common misconception. “I’ll have to let [customers] know, ‘There’s nicotine in the Juul.’ It’s just hard to see that. Seeing people not even knowing what they’re taking into their body,” she said.
Mayor Walsh’s proposal is in its early stages, and the mayor is still accepting public comment.
In a statement to WBZ, Juul said it will review the Mayor’s proposal.
“We will review this proposal as we strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products,” the statement read in part. “That is why we already stopped selling our non-tobacco/non-menthol based JUULpods to traditional retail stores, are fighting against counterfeit and compatible products made with unknown ingredients under unknown manufacturing standards, and will fully comply with local laws and the final FDA policy when effective. We will continue to combat youth usage, while supporting reasonable access to vapor products for adults looking to switch from combustible cigarettes.”