BOZTEPE: String of lung ilnesses show vaping's harm

Column: Kaanotations

Addictions come in all different shapes and sizes, from opioids to cigarettes to modern-day addictions such as social media. But today I want to discuss a current fad that actually started with good intentions: the vape. 

Before I discuss the vape, I want to discuss its origins as both the vape and the juul originated from electronic cigarettes. An electronic cigarette is a battery-operated tool that discharges either small doses of vaporized nicotine or non-nicotine solutions that emulates a sensation closest to what a smoker would experience with smoking a regular cigarette. 

In the last few years, the tide has been shifting. Rather than helping those trying to beat an addiction, an influx of young adults and pre-teens have picked up their own vapes and consequently their own addictions. 

"'Vaping' is now the most popular form of tobacco use among teenagers in the U.S. E-cigarette use rose by 900% among high school students from 2011 to 2015. In 2016, over 2 million middle and high school students had tried e-cigarettes," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And to add insult to injury, “those aged 18 to 24 years, 40% of vapers had not been smokers before using the device,” which brings me to my main point, something has to be done about the exponentially growing vaping issue.

Quitting smoking is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health. Smoking has the ability to affect nearly every organ in your body and the health issues that can arise from it vary from asthma to lung cancer. 

Aside from the fact that we are normally not guaranteed that the liquids found in the vape pens are in fact what the label says they are, they still contain nicotine. Nicotine is still the primary component within regular cigarettes and vapes, not to mention it is a toxic substance that raises your blood pressure and increases your adrenaline. 

This is an important note as the increase of those two highly increase the chances of you having a heart attack.

Also, in our quick-fire capitalistic world, we often fall victim to the brilliant minds behind many commercialized advertisements. The same way the “Got Milk?” campaign made many Americans believe that milk had the highest levels of calcium, the electronic cigarette companies marketed their device as the aid to help you quit smoking. 

But, a recent Harvard Health study stated that most people who intended to use e-cigarettes to kick the addiction of nicotine ended up continuing to smoke both regular and electric cigarettes. 

Young adults are still trying to figure out who they are, and even the smartest and most straight-edge students are enticed by vaping. They see it as less harmful than smoking, along with other factors such as flavored vape cartridges as flamboyant as apple pie to raspberry blast.

​The most popular vape currently is a juul, which is even more dangerous than a vape. Unlike other vapes, the juul looks like a flash drive and can actually be charged in the USB port of a laptop. 

The appeal of the juul for young teens is that it makes much less smoke than typical vapes, which makes it easier for them to vape at school or at home. 

The most dangerous difference between the two is that the juul’s nicotine level is very similar to cigarettes. “Nicotine is about as addictive as cocaine and even more addictive than alcohol and barbiturates (anti-anxiety drugs)," according to the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The bottom line is that vaping and juuling are not the answer to your addiction. Both juuls and vapes have large amounts of nicotine that causes adverse health risk both physically and mentally. 

We might hope that this is just a temporary trend, but the statistics state otherwise. We must reach out to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and push them toward adding proper regulations and restrictions to limit the exposure of young adults to vapes. At the very least, they should make sure the liquids in the cartridges contain what they claim to and only that. 

There must be actual repercussions to those who sell vapes and juuls to younger adults. But to do so, we need to share our discontent.

Kaan Jon Boztepe is a School of Arts and Sciences senior double majoring in philosophy and history. His column, "Kaanotations," typically runs  on alternate Tuesdays.  


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