Vaping… It’s been around for decades, and recently, it has become increasingly more popular. Call it the new trend or an epidemic, either way, sales have never been higher, especially when it comes to teenagers. Afterall, the design and flavors from vaping products has shown to be more attractive to a younger demographic, even if young people weren’t necessarily the target audience. The sole campaign behind E-cigarettes and vaping was that it seemed to be a safer alternative to regular cigarettes. However, recent studies indicate this may not be the case.
According to News In Health, it’s been reported that about 37% of 12th graders vaped in 2018 which is significantly higher than the estimated 28% in 2017. Senior, Lindsay Anderson, said, “Our age is the lab rats of the new vaping products. So, we don’t know if it’s safer, honestly.” She goes onto say that, “but I do think it’s a lot better [than cigarettes] because you can control the amount of nicotine in vaping devices rather than cigarettes.” Whether or not vaping is a “safer” alternative to cigarettes, it shouldn’t be dismissed that the fact is that high levels of nicotine content in a JUUL pod can be incredibly damaging to young people. Considering that teenagers’ brains are still developing, the addictiveness of nicotine can potentially affect all aspects of a person’s life. Addiction is much more serious than just a headache, although this can be how it starts. It’s a never ending cycle that can control a person’s thinking 24/7.
To combat the usage of vaping by teenagers, a new Virginia law has recently raised the age to buy tobacco products, including cigarettes and E-cigarettes, to 21. Senior, Michael Morton said, “If it’s trying to increase people’s health, that’s a good thing, but there’s no point because people can go to North Carolina and get what they need.” There are many articles that talk about the harmful effects of vaping, which in itself is great to bring awareness. However, most teens know that vaping is probably bad for them without having to read those articles. Virginia and many other states have taken a practical step in preventing teens from vaping, such as raising the age. However, can people really say that the law has done anything to change circumstances for the better? Senior, Kayli Burton said, “As young people we are so used to being told what to do, that we are making bad decisions. A lot of people know it’s not a healthy thing to do. Teenagers have and always will do things that the older generation disapproves of; it’s part of the teenage spirit.”
In November of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration released new restrictions of flavored e-cigarettes and has proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes. Of course, there will be cities who might take severe actions such as going as far as banning e-cigarettes. That kind of thinking may be great in theory, but understand that these adolescents who vape are already addicted. Banning addictive products may create dangerous, or even illegal situations for those who wish to continue on using those products. There are subtler ways to effectively wean teens from vaping such as increasing taxation on e-cigarettes or pushing certain e-cigarette companies to limit the amount of nicotine in their products may help, but it will take time and a number of resources to regulate teen vaping. However, with fair and safe measures, hopefully there will be a decrease in these types of vaping products being sold and these adolescents can get their lives back before they go up and vape.