Every day, as the hallway filled with the sickly sweet smell of cinnamon rolls or mangoes or mint, hundreds of nationwide students fell ill. Some died. Yet, every day, nothing changed. Tiny killers held tight in the pockets of teenagers live on longer than at least eight of their users, and that number will surely grow. Vaping and use of electronic cigarettes or ‘e-cigs’ is dangerous and deadly despite its popularity among US teens.
First, let’s take a look at when and why e-cigs were invented. Although the first concept of an electronic cigarette was introduced in 1930, fully functioning nicotine inhaler devices did not become commercialized and regularly available until 2003. Manufactured by a man by the name of Hon Lik in Beijing, China, the Ruyan, meaning ‘like smoke’, and its technology spread to Europe and the United States through 2006 and 2007. Hon created this device in honor of his father, a heavy smoker who passed away from lung cancer. E-cigarettes, like Hon’s Ruyan, are meant to act as a middle man between smoking cigarettes and recovery. Thus, using a vape pen like JUUL or a tank system without the intention of recovery from cigarette addiction is a direct misuse of the product.
With almost a quarter of high school students being regular users, the risk of developing a nicotine addiction from vaping and eventually falling into the thrall of cigarette use drastically increases. The most prominent danger of vaping, however, is its newness. Unlike smoking tobacco, which has been around in some form since the 10th Century, vaping is new to the world as a way of nicotine deposition. Thousands upon thousands of studies have been published over the years on cigars, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco, but vaping came into existence so recently that no study could possibly know the long-term effects such as smoking’s numerous cancers, sexual dysfunctions, and brain damage. Vaping is unsafe due to the lack of medical research able to be done on them.
Teenage users also tend to believe that they are not addicted to nicotine from vaping simply because vaping is not tobacco. As a student, I have heard several peers claim that they could stop if they wanted, but they don’t want to. None of them are willing to put their supposed lack of an addiction to the test and try to give up their JUUL. The candy flavored pods hold the same amount of nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes, and some students go through more than one pod a day. Chances are they are addicted.
For those looking to quit, a program called Smokefree Teen offers support to teenage nicotine addicts. There is also a national helpline for those looking into recovery. 1-800-662-HELP (4357)