Mom’s Facebook Warning Sheds Light on Vaping Addiction in Teens

Press release
Sept. 5, 2019

How does a healthy 18-year-old go from a joyful trip to begin college to the ICU on death's door?

"Vaping," emphatically declares the mother of a New Lenox teenager.

Within 72 hours of posting her daughter's near-death ordeal on Facebook as a warning to parents, Ruby Johnson's post had been "shared" more than a half million times.

In addition to alerting parents to the dangers of vaping, Johnson and her husband, Tim, are calling upon the Food and Drug Administration to clamp down on the manufacturers of vaping devices.

"If our agencies aren't going to protect our kids right now, then we need to educate our kids and ourselves on the dangers of vaping. We can't afford to wait," said the 42-year-old mother of seven, with Piper being the oldest. "And it's not only 'illegal THC carts off the streets' as you may read in various places. Companies are not required to disclose their ingredients and chemicals that are deemed as 'generally safe to eat' are being inhaled. They are getting our kids hooked on nicotine."

And it is children who are the targets of the vaping industry, Johnson said.

"They are designed to look like USB flash drives or regular pens. Some even look like Apple Watches. Tiny little pods you can pop on, carts that contain THC, cute little refill bottles of gummy bear or blue raspberry liquid. The first e-cigarette hit the American market in 2007 and until 2016 any E-cig or ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system) could freely enter the market without any pre-market approval."

The Johnsons' attorney, Michael Gallagher, of Wise Morrissey, LLC, said the family and all families should be outraged at the proliferation of these potentially deadly devices.

"As some you are aware, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, is investigating a national outbreak of severe lung disease that has resulted in over 225 cases across 25 states, and has resulted in two deaths, one of which has occurred in Illinois.

"Our primary concern is that the E-cigarette makers like Juul are taking a page out of Big Tobacco's playbook by targeting our children, resulting in a terrifying increase in teen smoking."

The CDC has confirmed that from 2017 to 2018, e-cigarette use has increased nearly 80% among high schoolers and 50% among middle school students.

"Make no misstate, E-cigarette makers have targeted children by making their product easier to conceal from parents and easier for kids to consume then traditional cigarettes," Gallagher continued. "The e-cigarette cartridges look like USB or thumb drives, pens or even Apple Watches. E-cigarettes are also made in flavors like mango, fruit punch and mint flavors so they no longer have the harsh taste of cigarettes that used to deter teenagers from smoking. Finally, e-cigarettes provide 35% more nicotine than your average cigarette so our children are becoming addicted faster than ever before."

Ruby Johnson issued this plaintive appeal to other parents.

"We hope that our daughter's life-threatening ordeal can serve as a warning to parents and teens alike," Johnson said. "Vaping is dangerous and can kill you."

Piper Johnson became Colorado's first confirmed case of what authorities called a "sudden and severe lung illness due to vaping." She spent a week in the hospital and is now a freshman at Northern Colorado University.

For more information, call Michael Gallagher at 773 550 5996 or John Gorman at 312 315 2662.

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