The rapid growth of vaping culture is a public health crisis. Its popularity has worried doctors and public health officials about the harmful side effects; addictive substances such as nicotine can even rewire your brain. Smokers may be tempted to turn to electronic cigarettes, but is smoking e-cigarettes (a.k.a. vaping) really better for you than using traditional tobacco products?
No. All types of smoking kills. Both regular and e-cigarettes contain nicotine, an addictive, toxic substance. From raising your blood pressure to increasing the likelihood of a heart attack, it can dramatically impact your physical health in the long term. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention nicotine can directly hurt the brains and change the synapses of growing adolescents; it can go as far as to cause a type of allergic pneumonia called acute eosinophilic pneumonitis. Not to mention, its impact on one’s heart can increase adrenaline levels, inconsistent heart rhythms, and frequency of unanticipated heart attacks and even death. E-cigarettes has been a common practice among countless teenagers because the absence of the repellent odor of cigarettes reduces the stigma of smoking. Notwithstanding the consequences, these teens start vaping to “fit in” or to “relieve stress”. However, due to the addictive nature of these devices, some even stated that they get headaches or feel shaky without vaping.
Today, the newest and the most popular vaping product is JUUL, a global phenomenon that is birthed by an effective marketing strategy. More and more research showed the public what the harmful toxin in cigarettes can do. But what brought the chemical to the center stage of international public health dialogue is the rise of its marketing.
Widespread among young middle and high school students all around the world, JUUL now accounts for well more than 72 percent of the market share of vaping products by promoting products that look like appealing food items such as Tootsie Rolls. They are usually sold in conventional outlets such as convenient stores, tobacco shops, or gas stations, while also found through online retailers. Even eBay once carried the product. By 2016, 4 out of 5 upper school students saw at least one e-cigarette advertisement. Increasing the curiosity of 20 million youth, such brainwashing advertisements indicate the companies’ attempt to capitalize on a young vulnerable audience. In particular, the introduction of JUUL became a marked inflection point in the dialogue about the smoking culture. Despite the prohibition by the federal laws, JUUL now controls ¾ of the vaping market in the United States. As opposed to other e-cigarettes in the market, JUUL, surveys substantiate, is more attractive with its shape that does not look anything like the actual cigarette. JUULs are appealing to youth especially because of its small size and can be easily hidden. With new advancements of technology, JUUL essentially packed a high concentration of nicotine into such a small device. Not only are the devices concealed and designed like USB devices, but they are also charged in the USB port of laptops. They are also presented with several enticing flavors namely mango, cucumber, mint, and creme brulee.
The biggest problem of this trend is that the practitioners believe that e-cigarettes carry fewer carcinogens than regular cigarettes, and they believe it is a safer alternative. As a matter of fact, however, JUUL pods, the liquid that transforms into smoke within the device, contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Even the manufacturer acknowledged that a single JUUL cartridge consists as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. Ironically, this device was initially marketed as a cessation device, yet there a blatant, unintended consequence among young adults. This particular device slows brain development in teens, its major consumer demographic, and ultimately directly impact memory, concentration, and self-control capability.
Although many advertisement market promotes the vaping device as an aid to help you quit smoking, e-cigarettes do not curb the nicotine demand. Afterall, e-cigarettes are cigarettes. Fortunately, the United States started responding to teen’s inappropriate use of e-cigarettes and began proposing various initiatives, avoiding its status as a bystander of the ongoing precedent. Recently, on the 18th of December, the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams declared “e-cigarette use among kids an epidemic in the U.S., point to companies like JUUL as problematic.” Moreover, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it would restrict the selling of flavored e-cigarettes to adult-only store; JUUL publicized to remove the bulk of its product to a less variety of flavors such as mint, tobacco, and menthol.
This unfortunate reality is not only seen in the States, but also here at KIS. Its use is pervasive around campus, even in the middle school building. Students would even huddle in bathrooms. Despite its direct violation of the student handbook, many students arranged a network of the vaping culture. As the unquestionably harmful factor of the carcinogen is continuously luring young teenagers, more and more students are secretly using these devices. Fortunately, the KIS high school administration announced its stricter methods of discipline and higher awareness upon this serious matter such as out-of-school suspension. The high school principal Mrs. Kellar further highlighted that tobacco products at school is “unacceptable” especially because the administration expects “high school students to embody the values of our school and serve as role models for our younger students”
“No student may smoke, consume, use or possess tobacco products or e-cigarettes at any time while on or around school property during the school day or at any school sponsored activities. Before and after school, students are not to use tobacco products on or adjacent to the school grounds and/or within visual distance of any school grounds. Violations of this rule are cumulative for the students’ years at KIS and may result in school discipline up to or including an out of school suspension.” (KIS HS Handbook 2018-2019, p. 26)
As a means to reduce such illegal acts in an academic environment, both public and private schools should show initiatives. According to the administration of schools in the United States, suspension does not enhance the issue at hand, but rather aggravate it. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration figured the alarming need of a solution to the skyrocketing surge of e-cigarettes among vulnerable adolescents, one being Juul suspending its products from convenience stores or vending machines and regulating them to only age-restricted stores. In addition, e-cigarette products with misleading advertisement should be misbranded or regulated under the Food and Drug Administration.
– Jennie Yeom (‘20)
Featured Image: Crescentia Jung (’19)