A Florida college student is warning others about the dangers of smoking Juul pods after one of his lungs collapsed from the toxic chemicals in his mint-flavored pods.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Chance Ammirata, an 18-year-old student at Florida International University, said he woke up on July 29 with extreme pain on his left side. The rising freshman was supposed to spend the day with a friend at a bowling alley but continued to experience discomfort — even while just sitting down.
"I remember she made me laugh and it felt like my chest was collapsing, like I was having a heart attack," he recalled.
The two went to a hospital, where Chance said the pain kept getting worse over the course of five hours. Multiple doctors reportedly saw him before determining that his left lung had collapsed. Surgeons then purportedly rushed the teenager into an operating room, where they inserted a tube to keep the lung inflated.
"When they did the actual major surgery to re-inflate my lungs, the surgeon said,'Whatever you've been smoking has been leaving these black dots on your lungs,'" Chance said.
The college student, who only picked up a Juul a year and a half ago and would smoke one pod every two days, said he was stunned by the diagnosis after initially believing Juuls were harmless.
"Cigarettes are totally disgusting garbage, but when it came to Juul, [people thought], Juul is perfect," he told the Daily Mail. "There are no health repercussions, nothing bad can happen."
But Chance's opinion has changed since. In the days following his operation, the teenager shared his experience on Instagram in an effort to raise awareness about the risks of vaping.
"If you want to make me feel better DM me and tell me ur gonna quit," he wrote in one of his stories. "Tell me ur not gonna let this take control of you. Not only are you losing so much money but your losing your life[.] I want to be an example so y'all don't make the same stupid mistake I did please!"
Last week, Chance also posted photos and videos of himself at the hospital, along with scans of his lungs and an emotional message for others.
My surgery to get my chest tube removed is scheduled in around 2/3 hours and I’m insanely nervous. But I want to make sure my story is always out there. And that the change doesn’t stop. Every day we need to fight to help not only ourselves but the ones we love put down the nicotine. This epedemic has taken enough. We don’t need more evidence telling us just how bad it is. How many more kids are going to have to get hospitalized for us to stop !? None should be the answer don’t take this with a grain of salt. And keep on pushing yourselves to take control of these cravings. I know it’s hard , and I know it will be a long one/2 weeks of getting over the addiction. But 1/2 weeks is so much more worth it than a lifetime of consequences.
The college student told the Daily Mail that his operation has forced him to reconsider his hobbies and interests, which, at one point, included cross-country and scuba diving.
"Even if they said I could smoke again, I would never pick up a Juul or anything that has smoke, I'm never going to pick up again," he said.
According to the National Center for Health Research, Juuls deliver "higher concentrations of nicotine than other e-cigarettes." Furthermore, the organization notes that nicotine, while addictive, is also "toxic to fetuses and is known to impair brain and lung development if used during adolescence."