"He was such a hard-working, motivated, skillful young kid. He was our best defenseman," Paul Yameen, Beauparlant's high school hockey coach, said. "As soon as he started [vaping], everything changed."
Recently, we made the rounds on social media sharing an article written by nbcnews.com (which is where the quote above was pulled from) on the effects of vaping and it hurting teenage athletes and dashing their dreams in sports. If you haven't already, please read the article as it provides great insight in a relatively new area of abusing a substance that's been used for a LONG time in sports, not just hockey.
When you get into your late teenage (or even early teenage for that matter) years, tobacco and nicotine use starts to become more popular with others your age.
I remember in high school watching some of my fellow athletes "dipping" during lunch and spitting into the small milk cartons they got for $.25, trying to hide their brown slimy spit from school officials.
Hell, once i got to college hockey (I skipped juniors) you were practically an outlier if you weren't packing a lip or chewing. Tins of Grizzly were being passed around like it's Thanksgiving dinner before, during or after practice/games (though there was always someone who owed someone and never evened up). You'd see guys sit in the back of class with their "lippers" in and whatever empty bottle they got their hands on just spitting away.
For the sake of transparency, you might wonder if I chewed? I tried the camel snus pouches when it came out, and yeah, it gives you a buzz and tingle in the lip, but no, I never actually tried the cut version of pure tobacco straight into my cheek or gums.
I'm not going to tell anyone that's an adult how to live their own lives, as I have plenty of buddies who still chew and we all know the consequences at our age. I don't even flinch or do a double take when someone pulls out a tin.
My vice was cigarettes which is much worse than chew, but that's like saying you'd rather take a punch in the nose over a punch in the jaw, both are going to really hurt and do some serious damage. I eventually quit after numerous attempts (I was a heavy smoker) but I still played beer league as a smoker and I was practically coughing up a lung after every shift, some games teammates looking over at me like "do we need to call an ambulance?" type of stare. It was an awful experience and I don't know why I did it except for physical dependency and addiction.
So when I'm reading about these young players who most are in the prime of their athletic careers and that they're now using what is billed as a "safer" version of a cigarette in the form of a "Juul" or e-cigarette to get a nicotine fix, I can't believe how much lack of information is out there.
In this article by Kathleen Raven of Yale Medicine (which does a fantastic job of explaining how vaping works on the body and the substances within it) back in mid December the Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a rare advisory, something that is only been done 4 times in the last 10 years:
“I am officially declaring e-cigarette use [vaping] among youth an epidemic in the United States,” Dr. Adams said.
I can sit here and be like the D.A.R.E. officer who comes to your class in fifth grade and makes you sing that stupid song, but I'm not going to do that, I'm just going to get straight to the point.
The peer pressure will be an easy way to get started or just the general curiosity, and then it just peaks into something to do because your are hooked physically on it. From there for many, it just spirals out of control and soon your tossing tons of dollars at essentially poison.
Take it from someone who has seen it and done it first hand, tobacco/nicotine use is highly addictive and something like vaping that effects your lungs, which brings in oxygen into your body, which helps your body compete at a high level physically, can utterly destroy your ability to perform athletically and hurt you moving forward not just in sports but your long term health as well.
Plain and simple of it, DON'T F&^$ing START!!!
Be smart, avoid doing it and push yourself to the highest level you can go. You get one chance to play competitive hockey, and you don't want to look back and think about what you could of done differently when the warning was right there in front of you.