Hi, my name is Evie, and I am 16 years old. My story begins at the beginning of the pandemic, when I was 13, like everyone in my school we started online classes. It was really boring for a while because I love track and field and basketball, I was almost famous for long distance running and was pretty good at hurdles too. I missed school and I missed my friends.

The pandemic was hard without my friends, and my Mom was home all the time working which was good at suppertime because she had time to cook, but a bother because we shared the internet connection and it always seemed to crash when I had a test.

I made it to summer and then my friends and I started hanging out in the park at school and a few of my friends had vapes (or e-cigarettes) so I tried it a few times, and I really kind of liked the fruit flavours so asked one of my older friends and I got a vape pen of my own. I haven’t ever tried smoking it just seemed dirty and gross, but this tasted and smelled good. It was just something we did, hanging out in the park and it continued right though to school, when we went back to school, we hung out in friends’ cars and played games like who can make the biggest clouds and everything seemed fun.

I knew there might be some nicotine in the vape liquid but lots of my friends were doing it and none of us thought really that it was bad for us, most of us thought it was just flavored water.

Well, then I went on vacation with my family and had a major melt down. I had left my vape at home because my parents had already grounded me twice when they caught me using it and I wasn’t going to risk them finding it in my back pack. We had to drive from Calgary to Kelowna to visit my Grandma and I really didn’t know how not vaping was going to go. I had tried going without it a couple of times and got pretty stressed, but I thought I could handle it.

I was really wrong, after about 5 hours I was upset and sad and angry and really, out of control, my Dad didn’t know what was happening and I had a major meltdown. I realized then how badly I was addicted to vaping and the nicotine. My parents were really sad because in the end, my Mom had to go and buy me a vape pen, I was that out of control and crying that I couldn’t function, I hate that I made her do it because she cried.

Since then, I’ve learned through a Breathe Smart session at my school from Alberta Lung how dangerous inhaling something that isn’t fresh air can be for me, how the nicotine creates cardiovascular disease and how the people who make these products actually hope that kids like me, will actually end up addicted and eventually smoking. I don’t want to be controlled and now that I know I’m just a way to make money to those that make vapes and flavours, I have tried hard to stop and have been vape free for almost 8 months now. But, going back to school and activities was really hard, because I cant run like I used to and I cough when I play basketball, I know now its because of the vaping effects on my lungs. I am slowly improving my fitness levels again but can’t be around my friends who still vape because its hard not to do it too, so that sucks.

I can’t wait to be free of the breathing issues and back to my old activities, I know that its my decision to vape or not, but I feel like I did it because I didn’t know everything about it. I was happy the Lung talked to my school about the dangers and think they need to do more of it, because we kids don’t know when somethings not safe. We need to see more information about the dangers so we can make better choices. I have realized that my lungs are for life, and I need to protect them.