By Aleen R.
Although introduced as innovative ways to stop smoking, vaping and Juuling have led to 54 deaths and over 2,500 injuries. As the FDA has announced that electronic cigarette usage among teenagers has reached epidemic proportions, the addictive, possibly fatal, trend has parents, teachers, and communities on edge.
The invention of the electronic cigarette is credited to Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik. After his father passed away from lung cancer due to the tobacco found in regular cigarettes, he hoped to create a safer smoking cessation device which could simulate the act of smoking while allowing the user to receive their nicotine fix. The device contains an oil-filled cartridge which heats up to emit vapor for inhalation. After their widely successful launch in Asia, electronic cigarettes hit Western markets in 2007 and have seemed to only climb in popularity.
More than 3 million students are believed to be electronic cigarette users. The sleek and modern design, which can easily pass as a flash drive or pen, coupled with palatable flavors such as blueberry lemonade, crème brulee, and cotton candy, has made it particularly appealing to the youth. In fact, 80% of teens who use electronic cigarettes cite the enticing variety of tastes as their reasoning.
Though marketed to be a safer alternative, a single Juul pod still contains the same amount of nicotine as that of one pack of regular cigarettes. While the product was intended for those afflicted by nicotine addiction, others have utilized it as a gateway to habitual drug and alcohol use. Furthermore, e-cigs contain several harmful substances known to be detrimental to lung health. Lungs cannot function properly when covered in oil found in the cartridges, which can lead to symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and even respiratory failure or blood-clotting. The damage can be irreversible and result in death. Teenagers are at special risk as the chemicals are extremely harmful for developing brains. While the sale of e-cigs to minors is illegal, the issue remains as many stores are not carding students and the devices are easy to purchase online.
Some teens might believe electronic cigarettes to be harmless or even nicotine-free, which has led the FDA to launch its own informative campaign called “The Real Cost” to educate the public about the risks involved with vapes and Juuls. Schools across America are cracking down and taking hard stances against e-cig use. Students can be excluded from sports, clubs, and dances, and even risk expulsion if caught vaping or Juuling. Recently, the Trump Administration announced their intention to ban flavored electronic cigarettes in response to the finding that one in five high schoolers use the product.
Though Connections Academy is an online school, students, teachers, and parents alike should be educated on the consequences of electronic cigarette use in order to safeguard our loved ones. Nicotine can be more addictive than drugs such as heroin or cocaine, and could ruin reputations, relationships, and futures. You can take a stand against electronic cigarettes by talking to your friends and families about the harmful effects and support movements which will protect our youth. Don’t let them be another statistic. It’s up to us to beat this epidemic before it’s too late.