Regulating vaping before dangerous consequences

Elusive puffs of vape smoke bellow out from millions of teen mouths. Spreading like wildfire, vaping requires control before an entire generation of Americans become lifelong nicotine addicts.

In a recent study by the University of Michigan, the number of students who vaped increased significantly from 2017 to 2018: 9.9 percent for seniors, 7.9 percent for sophomores and 2.6 percent for eighth graders.

Four years before the most popular e-cigarette brand, JUUL, hit the market, only 1.5 percent of all high school students vaped, according to Consumer Advocates for Smoke Free Alternatives. This number is a shocking contrast to how common e-cigarette use is among teens today.

E-cigarettes have become so common among high school students that most teens do not blink twice when peers vape. Vaping is no longer something that only the “bad crowd” does but a socially acceptable activity among most students, no matter what their social status is.

In line with statistics, my peers who frequently vape have never used other tobacco products before. They are not well-versed in the effects of vaping and nicotine but use e-cigarettes because they know a multitude of other student users. At DBHS, it is not uncommon to see students vaping in bathroom stalls or blowing smoke into bottles in class.

Besides on-campus usage, teens also vape in various social situation to appear cool. After attending a local music festival filled with young adults, I saw how widespread the issue of vaping is. For the entirety of the festival, I was engulfed by clouds of vape smoke from all directions.  

The sleek designs and sweet flavors of vapes seem worlds away from combustible cigarettes that teens are warned against in their classrooms. There should be updated lessons about e-cigarettes during required health class. Classes often gloss over vaping and the various health complications involved in its use.

Other than the well-known detrimental health effects caused by nicotine, vapes have additional ingredients that are unimaginably damaging to users. The American Heart Association found that flavorings used by the teen vapers lead to cardiovascular toxicity. E-cigarettes also expose the respiratory tract to metals such as Nickel, Chromium, Cadmium, Aluminum and Lead.

The FDA ordered a crackdown on teen vaping last September. This attempt at tightening accessibility and appeal of e-cigarettes was a good start in steering American youth away from vapes. However, the new regulations only restrict popular flavorings and online sales to minors.

There will always be easy ways to go around these restrictions so the FDA’s focus should be on prevention. For example, e-cigarette companies should be required to put warnings on their products and also have informational ads that show  the effects of vaping. Most retailers only state that their products contain nicotine and not any of the consequences linked with using the capes.

There’s no easy solution to decrease e-cigarette use among youth but this national health crisis will only get worse if we don’t begin preventive measures and have stricter laws.