Vaping affects local family

  • Mary Kerrie Davis hows off daughter Mary Margaret Davis. Mary Margaret lost her mother to vaping.
    Mary Kerrie Davis hows off daughter Mary Margaret Davis. Mary Margaret lost her mother to vaping.

“Breath is precious.” Two days before she died on Friday, Sept. 6, Mary Kerrie Davis repeated her husband’s words.

According to the couple’s daughter, Mary Margaret Davis, the Blairsville woman had said she was quitting vaping and throwing away her e-cigarettes. Her husband, Dr. Kevin Davis had replied, “Good, Mary. There are some things that are precious, like your vision and your breath and you just can’t hurt those things.”

Mary Margaret Davis wrote about her mother’s death in an article, “Breath is Precious: The Vaping Disease Killed My Mother,” published  in Pepperdine University’s Graphic. The young woman said having her mother decide to throw away her e-cigs and stop vaping was groundbreaking because her mother had always believed vaping was a safe alternative to smoking. “Despite recent protests from loved ones, she was adamant for years that it was far healthier than her cigarette habit,” Mary Margaret Davis wrote.

An article at: says many people assume vaping aerosol is as harmless as water vapor, but it has fine particles which contain toxic chemicals. Many are linked to cancer, along with respiratory and heart diseases.

Alex Gilpin, Community Health Educator for the Clay County Health Department said too many people think that. “These are not a safe alternative to smoking,” she said. “Remember, it is not a water vapor cloud; it is a chemical, aerosol cloud with not a drop of water in the ingredients.”


Vaping, also known as Juuling, started more than a decade ago and has become popular, especially among young people. Vaping uses an electronic cigarette, called an e-cigarette or e-cig, which looks like something a cyborg may smoke. Juuling is a small vaping device which fits into one’s palm and resembles a computer jump drive; therefore, it is easily hidden or disguised, making it more popular among middle and high school students.

Gilpin is concerned about the number of young people vaping. “E-cigs, vapes, Juul use are at epidemic levels nationwide. Unfortunately, Clay County is not excluded,” she said. Gilpin has educated Hayesville students several times and she wants them to know the dangers despite the fact the products are often marketed to young people through comic strips, special flavors and bright colors.

“With high rates of youth using Juul, we need to be concerned about not only the lung damage that can occur, but also the addictive nature of nicotine,” she explained. “The average brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. If our youth are using Juul, they are potentially rewiring their brains around a nicotine addiction. A major concern is the amount of nicotine a Juul pod contains which is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes. Although, I recently attended an E-Cig summit and research is now saying that each pod is equivalent to as much as two packs of cigarettes.”

In addition to regular vaping, Mary Kerrie Davis had bought THC to vape in late 2018 while in California where marijuana is legal. Unbeknownst to her family, she continued buying it illegally in Georgia, according to her daughter's story. Non-regulated substances are often even more dangerous.

A few days before she died, the 52-year-old Davis was diagnosed with pneumonia; however, her daughter described what X-rays revealed. “X-rays revealed a white substance infiltrating her lungs, clouds as silky as the puffs of vape she would exhale. Those clouds weren’t there when she had an X-ray two days before her death; they had developed as rapidly as an unexpected thunderstorm, unleashing an onslaught of destruction on her system and ultimately killing her. Relentless. No mercy given.” She continued, “These X-rays confirmed what my family had feared; this wasn’t a simple case of pneumonia, this was the new vaping illness sweeping the nation with fury. The white substance in her lungs was one of many symptoms associated with this new disease. Just as many others had, she suffered from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms reported are coughing, shortness of breath and chest pain.”

Visit the Centers for Disease Control web site at: and the screen immediately refers to lung disease outbreak and shows a chest X-ray with lung disease. It has become a national health crisis. As of Oct. 22, the CDC reported 1,604 cases of e-cigarette or vaping  product use associated lung injury from 49 states (all except Alaska), the District of Columbia, and one U.S. territory. In addition, 34 deaths have been confirmed in 24 states as of Oct. 22. The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC have played a large part in the outbreak, especially when obtained off the street or from other informal sources.

For Mary Kerrie Davis and her family, quitting came too late. Yet the family wants other people to know the dangers. To read Mary Margaret Davis’s complete article, click here.