Former Smoker Leslie Firebaugh Concerned that Juuls Have Replaced Cigarettes

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By Chloe Horstman

In 1993, a girl smells the scent of cigarette smoke as she walks off campus to meet her friends to study. A cigarette is passed to her and she smokes with her group between classes in her first year of college.  At age 19, Leslie Firebaugh began smoking, unaware that it would become an addiction that dictated her, until she battled to reclaim her life. Now in 2019, a 16 year old girl hears peers talk about vaping. Junior Allie Moore listens to them, worrying about the new trend they’ve become involved in. 

 “I assumed that it wasn’t going to be a huge part of my life,” Firebaugh, mother of Moore, said. “I just thought it was not going to happen to me, little did I know that I wouldn’t be able to quit. The worst is when you realize that you’re addicted because you’re by yourself and you’re not in control of it like you think you are.”

Now at age 44, Firebaugh had attempted to quit smoking multiple times throughout her life, and defeated the habit once she found out she was going to have a baby. Quitting proved to be an immense struggle, but Firebaugh prayed for help to avoid hurting her unborn child.

“I wasn’t even able to on my own,” Firebaugh said. “One day I was like ‘Okay God, I’m pregnant, I don’t want to hurt the baby that you’ve graced me with. You’re gonna have to stop this for me. There’s no way I can quit on my own.’ The next time I went to light up a cigarette, it tasted like I had been chewing tin foil. It was like ever since I prayed for him to stop it, it stopped. I couldn’t physically smoke another cigarette.”

After defeating smoking, Firebaugh sees the vaping trend that engulfs teenagers similar to how her experience with getting into cigarettes was. Her daughter, Moore, believes that vaping poses a lot of potential danger, even though it wears a mask of safety. 

“If you say ‘I can drive recklessly, I won’t get in an accident,’ and you continue to drive recklessly, one day you’re going to get in an accident,” Moore said. “Same with vaping. It might not hurt you in the beginning, but it’s going to catch up to you and something bad is going to happen.”

As vaping related health issues become increasingly prominent, it’s as if the history of smoking is repeating itself, but this time it smells like strawberries, or nothing at all. 

“The struggle that people our parents’ ages went through with nicotine addictions is the exact same thing that we’re going through, but with Juuls,” Moore said.  “We’re just repeating history rather than avoiding it, it’s just come in a new form. People are attracted to it and don’t realize that it’s literally the same idea.”