MacKenzie is a senior in her first year of Journalism. She likes playing with her dog and being with friends.
What You Don’t Know About Vaping
September 13, 2019
It’s cool, it’s popular, and it’s in high demand. So what is so bad about it? Nicotine has lasting effects on many teens and has now surpassed cigarettes. A number of new nicotine products such as JUULS, Stigs, VAPOs, Vuse and NJOYs have surfaced in the last few years and have become very popular among the younger generation. And the fact that 21 is the minimum age to obtain these products doesn’t mean it has stopped underage students from getting them.
At the beginning of July, the age to buy nicotine and tobacco products was raised to 21 in Virginia in hopes that it would discourage use among teens. For some students, the new law has indeed had an impact. “Students can’t get what they need from a regular source. It was much easier [before the law] to get your hands on an 18-year-old than a 21-year-old,” said one student who wished to remain anonymous. Others, like senior Alexis Smith, feel that students can still obtain what they want. “Buying from places that don’t card or getting someone over 21 to buy it for you is a way to get stuff,” she said.
Many students are under the impression that vaping is safe, acceptable, and maybe even legal, as long as the product doesn’t contain nicotine. However, one study, cited by Quit Smoking Fluvanna, found that up to 91% of vaping products which claim to have no nicotine in them, actually do. Another study by the Center for Addiction looked at 40 e-cigarette refill liquids and found toxic levels no matter what the nicotine content stated on the product.
So why do students smoke or vape? For some, smoking nicotine products can be a way to fit in, while other students claim it actually helps their mental state because it calms their nerves. But the costs of fitting in can be very high, because the effects of vaping are increasingly proving to be dangerous. According to Science News for Students, vaping can cause gum disease, sores in the mouth, lung damage, and potentially even cancer. Other effects of vaping can include collapsed lungs, black spots on the lungs, fungus in the mouth, and brain trauma.
Even more alarming is a recent rise in the incidence of young people suffering severe respiratory issues, hospitalization, and even death linked to vaping. Michigan recently became the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, while U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams officially declared e-cigarette use among youth to be an epidemic in America. Just last week, the Centers for Disease Control advised individuals of all ages to stop e-cigarette use as they continue to investigate serious lung issues that appear to be tied to vaping.
Another possible side effect of vaping is the fact that it could lead to the abuse of even more harmful substances. “Anything that gives you a buzz leads to trying to obtain the same high,” admitted one student. Smith agrees. “An overall addiction comes with vaping,” she said.
Two students recently interviewed at FCHS said they believe that 45-50% of FCHS students actively vape. However, a recent discussion in another class produced a consensus that that number was probably closer to 70%. With the number of people with severe lung illnesses connected to vaping doubling in the past week (at least 450 possible cases across 33 states), one can only wonder if the rapidly increasing interest of vaping among students will finally begin to decline.