The truth about vaping

Carlin Reyen

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As high school students, we’ve all heard about the dangers of smoking cigarettes. In our day and age, that trend seems to have been left in the past along with leg warmers and the music of Queen. But there’s a new trend of drug use that has replaced smoking traditional cigarettes, and it has gained popularity on social media. Most students have probably seen videos of kids vaping in school or on the bus, sometimes in plain sight of oblivious adults. Many high school students are under the false impression that using a vape pen or a Juul is harmless, and that these forms of e-cigarettes don’t contain the harmful ingredients that cigarettes do. However, vaping and using the Juul pose very real threats to the health of high schoolers.

For one, e-cigarettes, which include the Juul and vape pens, are not regulated by the FDA. As a result, a number of harmful chemicals are included in these devices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list e-cigarettes as containing cancer-causing chemicals, flavorings that can cause lung disease, and heavy metals, such as tin, nickel, and lead. These metals can be toxic in large quantities, according to Kids Health. Using vapes and the Juul daily also increases the risk of a heart attack, and development of “popcorn lung”, a serious and irreversible lung disease.

Since there is no tobacco in e-cigarettes, there is a common misconception that no nicotine is added either. This is false. Vapes and especially the Juul contain large amounts of nicotine, the same highly addictive substance that gets smokers hooked on normal cigarettes. The website for JUUL reads that the Juul “packs the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes into a tiny liquid-nicotine cartridge”. The Juul also contains a patented nicotine-salt formula which allows users to take in more nicotine in one sitting. And, according to Tobacco Free California, it is just as easy to get addicted to vaping as it is to get addicted to cigarettes. Plus, if you vape, you are seven times more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes than people who have never vaped (Forbes Magazine). So when you consider vaping or using a Juul, even if you think it looks cool now, think about how your life could be controlled by addiction in a few years. Will it really look so great if your hands shake when you haven’t smoked a cigarette, or vaped in an hour? Will you still think it’s worth it if you develop lung cancer in your fifties and are in constant pain, with only a 55% chance of survival?

E-cigarette companies are using marketing ploys to try to hook our generation for life. JUUL uses colorful, sleek designs to try to appeal to teenagers. The Juul is easy to conceal and use discreetly, as it looks like an USB drive. Many e-cigarette companies use models in their advertisements to give viewers the illusion that vaping will make them effortlessly stylish or popular. E-cigarette companies are also allowed to put flavorings into their product. Tobacco Free Kids called the recent trend “an explosion of sweet-flavored tobacco products”, which has substantially increased the use of e-cigarettes by kids. Without FDA regulations on vapes, the Juul, and other e-cigarette products, kids and teens will get hooked on nicotine and be unable to break the cycle for the rest of their lives. Currently, e-cigarette manufacturers will not be regulated until 2022.

Although vaping and using Juul may seem harmless and fun now, e-cigarette use can have serious repercussions on your health later in life. Vaping is not more healthy for you than cigarette smoking, despite the efforts of e-cigarette companies to advertise as such. The FDA needs to step in and protect kids and teens before they fall victim to the heartbreaking cycle of addiction.

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