Vaping: What It Is And How To Stop It

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Vaping: What It Is And How To Stop It

Gianna LaMorges, Staff Writer

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Vaping: an epidemic that has taken over teenagers’ lives all over the world. The most common scene is high school or college parties. At these parties at least one teen is vaping without knowing what they are inhaling. But the important question is: if teens were to be educated about the dangers of vaping, would they stop?

Vape products were originally created for smokers with the goal of quitting cigarettes. The goal was to gradually lower the amount of nicotine, a highly addictive chemical contained in cigarettes, in the pod until the user is able to quit without signs of withdrawal. However, young adults and teens began using these vapes without previously smoking, and the manufacturing companies, rather than restricting their products, made them appeal to younger crowds such as teens. Companies in the vape industry began designing flavors such as kiwi, strawberry cheesecake, mango, and mint. The companies believed that producing these flavors would attract teens more than a “nasty” cigarette would, and they were right. 

A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2018 revealed that 38% of high school students and 13% of middle school students have tried vaping at least once for many different reasons. When asked in an anonymous poll, local students expressed why they do or do not vape. Here are some of the responses:

“I vape because it helps me with my anxiety.”

“I don’t vape because it is very expensive and I want to keep my lungs clean.”

“I vape because it gets rid of my headaches when I need it.”

“I don’t vape because anything going into your lungs that isn’t natural is not safe.”

“I vape because I tried it once and got addicted.”

“I don’t vape because it is not safe and I’m proud to say I’m clean as I can be.”

Students also answered saying that they have tried it, but never continued because they did not like it. Many responses from the poll that said “no”  involved the issue of the high cost for vape products. One JUUL, a popular vaping device, costs about $50 plus $16 for a pack of four pods to refill the device. This is extremely expensive and yet, teens splurge on multiple packs of different flavored pods every month, sometimes going through packs weekly. 

Due to the lack of information on the effects of vaping, may people assume that it is safe. Wrong! At least 12 e-cigarette users have died and hundreds have suffered lung injuries in the United States. Experts at the CDC have been racing to find answers as to why these people have experienced such severe side effects. 

Although, there have been several theories on the causes of these incidents there has been no definitive answer to what has been causing these horror stories. Still, there is no report that combines all of the data, and no reputable source has officially confirmed all of the chemicals used. Also, there have been no proven ways of quitting have come out either. Experts say that teens who are addicted to vaping may have to rely on the methods that help people quit using tobacco. However, these strategies have not been proven to work, and when they do, it is an extremely difficult process. As more research about vaping is conducted and harmful results come into light, why do teens continue to use these products?

How do innocent teenagers get so addicted to vaping? Often they start early, and can be as young as in middle school when older brothers, sisters, cousins, etc., expose them to vaping. Between 2017 and 2018, the amount of middle schoolers who vape increased by 48%. That means that there were children ages 11-14 using vape products meant for adults. 

How can we, as a community, stop this epidemic? Vapes are meant for people ages 18 and up and yet, teens younger still manage to get a hold of these products. Therefore, people selling these products do not check for age or identification, they just sell their products for their own profit, without thinking about the effects. To stop this, the government must make stricter laws on selling vape products to underage kids. In cities and towns where these laws were implemented, teens were 33% less likely to try and buy e-cigarettes. 

The topic of these teen deaths is present at Wayne Valley as well. In an anonymous interview, a teen stated that they “think vaping is not something that should be relied upon to get through the day. It is not smart, and now that people have died from it, there’s even more reason not to vape”. Concerned adults and teens can hope that less students will try vaping once they understand the health risks and consequences.Nonetheless, the problem doesn’t stop there—health organizations must take fast action towards protecting people of all ages from becoming addicted, and towards helping those who have already developed addictions. 

When it comes to cigarettes, people know the ingredients and people know the effects. Therefore, the rate of people smoking cigarettes has gone down over the past few years. On the other hand, no one is certain what is inside a vape product. And yet, the rate of use of these vapes has gone up. It seems as if vaping has become a societal norm, because it is thought that vaping / using e-cigarettes is less harmful and addictive than smoking tobacco cigarettes. This is not true!

In order to put an end to vaping in teens, communities need to hone in on the goal of creating stricter e-cigarette laws and finding out what is used to make the vape products. They also need to use an educational campaign similar to the campaigns used about the dangers of smoking. There have already been multiple deaths from using e-cigarettes and there are certainly more coming in the future if vaping  in teenagers continues. Who knows what other issues may be brought to light! In fact, vape products and e-cigarettes may very well be more dangerous to your health than tobacco cigarettes are.