Toxic chemicals, brain damage and fruit flavorings. Many would think that these words don’t go together. However, for those who vape, these words combine on a regular basis.
Vaping is the use of e-cigarettes to inhale a flavored vapor packed with nicotine and other substances. Vaping is often advertised as helping smokers stop smoking, as e- cigarettes are considered safer than traditional cigarettes.
If vaping helps smokers stop using cigarettes, then what’s the problem? The answer is simple: vaping is extremely popular among people who never smoked at all, including teens. While vaping may be safer than cigarettes, it still comes with risks of its own.
Vaping is dangerous for teens because the large amount of nicotine can permanently alter developing brains. Not only that, but e-cigarettes contain other harmful substances, including formaldehyde and lead, that can cause lung damage such as popcorn lung (a disease that damages the smallest airways in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe).
One brand, JUUL, is popular among students because the devices can be concealed easily. JUULs come in many flavors, making them even more appealing. Because of this, JUUL has been accused by the FDA of marketing their devices toward minors and getting a new age group hooked on nicotine.
In an article published on April 24, 2018, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb,M.D., stated: “The troubling reality is that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as e-cigarettes have become wildly popular with kids. We understand, by all accounts, many of them may be using products that closely resemble a USB flash drive, have high levels of nicotine and emissions that are hard to see. The FDA must – and will – move quickly to reverse these disturbing trends and, in particular, address the surging youth uptake of JUUL and other products.”
Vaping is a national issue, as well as a local one. William Eihusen, an assistant principal at Jeffersonville High School, said vaping has had “a negative impact on the school, basically through discipline.” He added, “There’s been kind of an uptick in students using vape sticks in class and so obviously as an administrator, we deal with that a lot more than we do with traditional cigarettes.”
Eihusen elaborated on the consequences for students caught vaping: “If a student is caught here and it’s the first time with any type of tobacco product, which includes vaping, typically as long as there haven’t been any other significant issues in the past, they would receive three days at the alternative school,” he said.
Nola Garrison, the nurse at Jeff High, grew up in a time where smoking was glamorized and says that in today’s society, vaping is just as trendy.
“People just didn’t know how addicting nicotine was and how harmful cigarette smoking was, but were bombarded with the practice,” Garrison said.“Vaping has many of the same long- term dangers of smoking and a few additional dangers of its own.”
Students who vape are divided on the issue. One anonymous student has been vaping daily for almost a year and says that in addition to vaping being dangerous, it costs him a lot of money.
He said of the habit, “I would’ve saved probably hundreds of dollars if I never started and also wouldn’t be addicted to such a harmful substance.”
Another teen says she’s been vaping daily for four months, but that she mostly vapes as a relaxation technique. She focuses on the positive aspects of vaping. “I wish I hadn’t started vaping due to the habit that I formed, but I also don’t regret it because it’s actually helped me a lot,” she said. “Vaping has strongly helped me deal with anxiety and being under a lot of stress.”
Society may be divided on the issue of vaping, but one thing is certain: vaping can have numerous health consequences.
Garrison said, “The more unnatural products we introduce, the more unnatural consequences we should expect from our bodies, which moves us further from our baseline healthy state. Everything has a point of failure.”
Written by Greta Reel
Photo by Caleb Sorrells (Not on school property)