WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Vaping or JUULing, if you have a student in high school or even junior high, odds are they know what that means.
Now labeled an epidemic, it’s no wonder parents are more concerned than ever.
They call it the vaping lung disease, and after just three and a half months of turning to vapes, Wayne Moore couldn’t breathe.
“I got up and went to the emergency room, but by that time, breathing was like me trying to suck air through a straw that was clogged at the bottom,” said Wayne.
Before he knew it, Wayne was hooked up to all kinds of tubes and monitors, and that was the beginning of what turned into an eight day stay in the hospital.
The doctors told him it was all linked back to vaping.
“At the end of this journey, now here I sit with Emphysema, and that’s not going to go away,” said Wayne.
A singer, Wayne finds hope in his faith.
While he can still sing with the best of them, he says this has no doubt changed things for him.
He takes breathing treatments twice a day, along with daily medication and a host of problems from steroids.
If it did all of this to his body, Wayne says he hates to imagine what it could do to kids.
“Imagine having a 12-year-old getting diagnosed with Emphysema, imagine them with COPD, imagine them never being able to play football because they can’t breathe,” said Wayne.
In hopes of not getting busted with a vape pen at school, students are often leaving them in the car and instead, taking a swig of vape juice.
Law enforcement says oftentimes they are doing it to get a quick nicotine fix before heading inside. The problem is, it’s a super high concentration of the drug, so as you can imagine they often walk inside and get sick.
“That’s scary,” said Paula Villareal. “That’s the first time I’ve heard that.”
It’s not the first time vaping has come up at Paula’s home.
“When my teenagers come in from school and say, ‘Hey mom, can I start JUULing?’ I’m like ‘What!’ I try to explain ‘You’re just wanting to do that because your friends are doing it,’ and they are doing it because their friends are doing it. ‘But once you start, it’s going to be hard to quit. So, no, you’re not going to JUUL,'" said Paula.
Paula says she always has a fear her kids will get hooked on vaping. She says that fear has multiplied since losing both her mom and dad to emphysema.
“It’s like a toy. They see that and it’s a flavor that’s good, so they’ll [say] ‘Yeah I’ll take a hit from you,’" said Paula.
With the popularity growing among high school and junior high kids, law enforcement urges parents to start young when it comes to talking to your kids. In fact, they say talk to your kids about vaping in the 4th and 5th grade.
Vapes will often be offered to them, and it may even be in the home, leaving them curious.
This is something Blake Flowers, the dad to little Sophie, can attest to.
"Yeah, she asked me about it and said, ‘I want to try it.’ but no, not happening, "said Blake. “These high school kids, they are doing it more to look cool and everything. I’m doing it to stop smoking cigarettes.”
Blake has been vaping for about 10 months. While he feels it’s the best option for him, he doesn’t want the kids to pick up a bad habit.
Paula says she is now warning her grand-kids about this bad habit.
“It’s always cigarettes are bad for you. Don’t smoke cigarettes,” said Paula. “But now we have to remember they come in all shapes and sizes.”