Opinion

Vape Outbreak

By Akash Kumar

STAFF WRITER

    The United States has been plagued by a severe epidemic of teenagers misusing e-cigarette devices, commonly known as vapes. E-cigarette devices are mostly intended and marketed for smokers as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, but without the tobacco and harmful fumes. Since the early 2000s, the number of vape users has been consistently increasing to where 2018 had the greatest number of users. The most common of these e-cigarette devices are made by Juul, headquartered in San Francisco. Juul makes their products very appealing to adolescents because of their use of flavor pods that come in a wide variety of flavors that kids would enjoy. Teens are now using the devices for multiple reasons. One study showed that adolescents are using e-cigarettes because they think they are healthier than traditional smoking and also because they are available in a wide variety of flavor pods to choose from.

   “Emerging data suggests links to chronic lung disease and asthma.” writes Dr. Micheal Blaha, director of Clinical Research for the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center.  

   Seeing that the data for e-cigarettes is fairly new, we may not know the long term health risks associated with them, so it is best to stay away from e-cigarettes entirely. The American Heart Association reports that e-cigarettes are still delivering high levels of nicotine to users. Nicotine is a highly addictive medium used both in e-cigarettes and in regular cigarettes. It causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, making the user more susceptible to a heart attack. 

   “In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette vapor includes potentially harmful substances such as diacetyl (a chemical linked to a serious lung disease), cancer-causing chemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead,” writes the American Heart Association.

   Most of all, sources agreed that e-cigarettes don’t provide many benefits other than releasing much fewer chemicals than the typical cigarette. However, many of the carcinogens found in e-cigarettes are still harmful to users.

   One of the most worrisome issues to the public is that tobacco companies pose a risk to the next generation because of how they market e-cigarettes. By selling them in flavors similar to candies, teenagers can become very attracted without thinking about how serious any nicotine related product is. Recently, President Donald Trump signed a bill to raise the minimum age to use any cigarette or vape product to 21 years old. I think this is a fantastic step forward because it prohibits underage teens from exposing themselves to develop vaping addictions. By raising awareness about the harmful nature of e-cigarettes, the health of young Americans can be protected.