Has Teenage Vaping Become an Epidemic?


Vaping has become a dangerous new trend for teenagers. (Image from NBCNEWS.COM)

Carley Nolting, Reporter

    Electronic cigarettes are just as addictive as traditional ones. To fully understand why one would vape, one must know about its violent, murderous cousin – cigarettes. Cigarettes were first introduced in 1865, when hand rolled cigarettes were given to soldiers at the end of many wars to psychologically escape from the boredom of downtime and stress of combat. However, it was in 1881, when the first ever cigarette making machine was invented, that smoking became widespread.

     The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens highlights the question, “Why do teens who smoke think they are so cool?” Most argue that it’s the actors in movies that influence the teens, while others argue that they have parents or friends who smoke or makes them look edgier. Obviously, smoking is not cool. Smoking cigarettes can make your teeth yellow, damage your heart and your blood circulation, and even increase your risk of death. However, the part of the body that it affects the most, are your lungs. Smoking inflames and irritates the lungs, and destroys your lungs and lung tissue. This decreases the number of air spaces and blood vessels in the lungs, resulting in less oxygen to critical parts of your body. This damage can not only come from smoking cigarettes, but from vaping.

     Vaping is the current “trend” that most high schoolers and teenagers partake in today. By definition, vaping is “the action or practice of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.” While the e-cigarette, or the vape, was first introduced in 1927, it rapidly increased in popularity in these past few years. According to the Official Magazine of the NSC Congress and Expo, there has been a “37% increase in vape use by high school seniors.”

     Did you know that one pod of a vape contains the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes? Tobacco Free CA explains that nicotine is highly addictive and can slow brain development in teens. This can then affect a person’s memory, concentration, learning, self-control, attention, and mood. “Public health advocates say e-cigarettes have erased years of progress in reducing smoking rates among minors and is getting a new generation addicted to nicotine,” said CNBC.

     The majority of vape users are teenagers and very young adults, and older generations blame the company Juul for including enticing flavors that bring in teens, such as watermelon, strawberry lemonade, mango, and even strawberry milk. Although most vape users are teens, there are, an “estimated 8 million adults who use the products to help stop smoking.” There are an estimated 805 deaths every year related to vaping, the youngest being a 17 year old who passed away in early October. In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, there were  an additional 284 cases this week related to vaping. Although e-cigarettes were created to help adults stop smoking, “research tells us that teens who vape may be at risk for transitioning to regular cigarettes.” Mysterious lung diseases that have been connected to vaping have recently jolted federal officials into action, with President Donald Trump placing a ban on all flavored e-cigarette products. However, five states have declared a public health emergency and places a ban on all e-cigarettes in general. Those states are California, Rhode Island, Washington, New York, and Massachusetts.

     Student Devon Taylor (12), said, “I don’t vape cause I’m Mormon and I have higher standards in terms of my health.”

     Although many students understand the health related dangers of vaping,  many continue to add to the epidemic. An article written Aimee Cunningham found that one  in four seniors, one in five sophomores, and one in 11 eighth graders vape electronic cigarettes. Students have reported walking into school bathrooms and smelling vapor and seeing the clouds from above the stalls. Students are not only damaging their own bodies, but they are exposing others to many different chemicals such as, “propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, flavorings, additives, and differing amounts of contaminants.” This can be defined as “passive smoking” or “secondhand smoke,” and enough exposure to this can cause cancer.

     In conclusion, vaping is considered an epidemic of 2019, with deaths rising month by month due to lung issues caused by vaping. Schools need to be more strict on making sure that vaping does not occur on campus, and the exposure to multiple students need to decrease. With teenage vaping on the rise, federal action needs to take place, even greater than just banning flavored pods.