The Vaping Epidemic

Maddi Rivera, Staff Writer

E-Cigarettes, an item created for adult smokers to help them quit their bad habits, unfortunately has gotten into the hands of teens across America and has started an epidemic of this generation becoming addicted to nicotine in recent years. Nicotine itself is a highly addictive drug, and it can affect your heart and hormones. Using nicotine as a teen can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.  Additionally it can severely damage brain development and your lungs especially when inhaled in a vape form. According to the Washington Post, “About 37 percent of 12th-graders reported vaping over the past year.” They also stated, “E-cigarettes were the most popular product among the nearly 5 million high school and middle school students who used tobacco within a 30-day period.”

For most teens. the most common item used to inhale the drug is called a Juul. Juul is a brand of e-cigarette shaped like a USB flash drive that comes in “fun” flavors and can be charged in a USB port. It delivers high levels of nicotine, making the product extremely addictive. According to the manufacturer, a single Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. Seeing as most teens using the product go through a pod in 1-2 days, that is a huge problem.

Since they leave little odor,  Juul’s are particularly easy to hide and even use discreetly in public places, including school. Although many teens believe this is a “safer” alternative to smoking cigarettes, in actuality scientific researchers do not fully know the long term side effects of the chemicals used to produce the nicotine infused products. The Washington Post says, “Given that the FDA has yet to vet vaping products, experts caution that the long-term consequences of using e-cigarettes remains unclear.”

Recently, news has arisen that  the FDA is forcing Juul to completely remove all remaining flavored vape cartridges including mango, cucumber, fruit and creme. Although the mint, menthol, and tobacco pods are still on the market, the more teenage-friendly flavors are temporarily being removed from retail stores. Even with these flavors now a bit more difficult to obtain, the sales of mint Juul pods are skyrocketing. CEO of Juul Kevin Burns recently went to social media to address the issue. Burns said that the mango, fruit, creme, and cucumber flavors will continue to be available for purchase on with verification that you are over 21 years of age.  To verify that customers are over 21, they will be asked to give their name, date of birth, address, and the last four digits of their social-security number; this information will be cross-checked to verify accuracy.

In addition to that, Juul is also trying to prevent customers from buying in bulk and selling these pods to teens. So every purchaser will be restricted to two devices and 15 Juul pod packages per month, and no more than 10 devices a year.

Unfortunately, despite these efforts, this past weekend news also struck that there have been a reported five deaths that have been caused due to vaping related illnesses. This is a growing epidemic that officials are trying to get under control, but as long as the stores keep selling under a black market ring to minors and online purchases are still obtainable, the problem won’t change, and the addiction will just keep getting worse.

* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license