Sponsor hopes that lessons in health classes will help students avoid dangers of vaping

Photo provided to the Chicago Sun-Times

Adam Hergenreder, who began vaping at age 16, experienced lung damage as a result of his frequent use of vaping products.  A bill introduced by State Representative Joyce Mason is designed to ensure that students recognize the dangers before being tempted to use a vaping device.

Students in Illinois might soon learn about the dangers of vaping to the same extent that they learn about the dangers of cigarettes and tobacco products in school.  Illinois State Representative Joyce Mason, a Democrat from Gurnee, a community north of Chicago, introduced a bill (House Bill 3202) that would require schools to address vaping in the context of the health education curriculum for grades six through twelve.

Rep. Joyce noted that she was motivated to act after hearing about a young person from her community, Adam Hergenreder, who began vaping at age 16 while he was a student at Warren Township High School in Gurnee in order to fit in with his friends.

By age 18, according to March 15, 2021 Daily Herald report, his lungs resembled the lungs of a 70-year old.  At his worst, Adam experienced difficulty breathing, uncontrollable shivers, and vomiting, which led to a seven-day hospital stay at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville in 2019.  Although his condition has since improved, he still becomes winded while playing basketball and participating in other activities that young people take for granted.

Although some young people perceive vaping to be safer than smoking cigarettes, they overlook the fact that the vapor generated by e-cigarettes contains ultrafine particles and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead, which can damage lung tissue even more quickly than traditional cigarettes can.  Many teens mistakenly assume that they are inhaling and exhaling only water vapor when they are in fact inhaling substances that could seriously affect their lungs and overall health.

“Had that been taught to me when I was younger it would have definitely changed how my future looks now,” Hergenreder said in the Daily Herald report.

Rep. Mason is hopeful that her efforts will make a real difference in the lives of Illinois’ youth.  “It is vital that we’re presenting young people with factual information on vaping devices so they fully understand the risks involved before choosing to use them,” Mason said in a March 8 press release regarding House Bill 3202. “With more than a quarter of high school seniors now using e-cigarettes, incorporating vaping education into our school curriculum is more important than ever.”

To view a video segment regarding Adam’s struggle to recover from the adverse health effects of vaping, MWAH! invites you to view WGN-TV journalist Dana Rebik’s January 23, 2020 interview with Adam, his parents, and health experts.  The URL is: https://wgntv.com/2020/01/23/from-healthy-prep-athlete-to-hospital-bed-fight-for-his-life-suburban-teen-warns-of-dangers-of-vaping/

In addition, to view Daily Herald reporter Doug Graham’s March 15, 2021 Daily Herald article about Adam and Rep. Mason’s bill to address vaping in the health education curriculum, please visit https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20210315/gurnee-lawmaker-vaping-dangers-should-be-taught-in-schools