Teenage Vaping: Where Do We Draw the Line?

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"No Vaping Sign" by JeepersMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hayley Bolinger, Staff

If you type vaping into the search bar of your internet browser, all of the search recommendations hold negative connotations. You get things like Vaping deaths, Vaping side effects, Vaping dangers, Vaping related illnesses, Vaping bans, Vaping statistics, etc. Teenage Vaping is something that is in many headlines all over the U.S. and not in a positive way. I know to many people, mostly teenagers like myself, the topic is something that is verly talked about. On the other hand, there seems to not be enough talk about what we can do to prevent more people from joining this so called “trend”.
So far, there have been at least 42 deaths in 24 states related to the use of these battery powered devices. On top of that, there have been a total of over 2,000 mysterious vaping-linked illness cases across every state but Alaska. Many of which have resulted in victims consequently gaining respiratory distress syndrome, a life threatening condition in which fluid builds up in the lungs and prevents the oxygen people’s bodies need to function from circulating in the bloodstream. Why are these statistics important? Because people that we know and love could be futuristically impacted by these vaping consequences if we don’t start paying attention and preventing the use of them in the first place.
Let’s start by considering what has already been done. The FDA has taken many progessive actions in order to crack down on the so called “new generation of nicotine addicts.” For instance, they have proposed stricter regulations around e-cigarette sales as well as started monitoring e-cigarette advertisements to make sure they’re not targeting the youth. They are also developing guidelines to remove all vaping flavors except tobacco so that teens aren’t attracted to fun flavors such as grape, slushie,etc.
Not only this, but President Donald Trump has even made a public announcement stating that “We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” This statement from Trump was given after health authorities began investigating hundreds of breathing illnesses reported in people who have used e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. I think the next biggest thing to consider is where do we go from here and how we handle the act of vaping in general? One thing that I think could be done on a small scale would be to require nicotine tests at high schools on a monthly basis, or randomly throughout sport seasons just like drug tests are. This way students as well as athletes might second guess vaping. If an athlete fails to pass one of these tests then he/she could be suspended for a certain amount of the season as he/she would be for the use of marijuana or any drug for that matter.
Another thing that could be done is to pay attention to kids more. One of a parents biggest concerns is their child’s safety so I think they should take it upon themselves to make sure their children aren’t doing things they shouldn’t. I have some friends that like to stay at one person’s house more than the other because one of our friend’s mom is way less strict and have no issue with people coming over and partying, vaping, drinking, etc. And while that may be great for the kids that are trying to get away with taking part in this stuff, that is potentially a huge health risk and parents are completely clueless to knowing about it. I’ve been at parties like these, and I’ve seen people get peer pressured into hitting a vape as well as other things, that being said, I think that is important for parents to be “annoying” and want to know what their kids are doing all the time because it could potentially save them from being the next victim of a severe health condition.
I also think that the legal age to buy an e-cigarette should be moved to at least 20. Teenagers have been so exposed to the vaping devices that most only have to wait 2-3 years to be able to buy one themselves. There are many people in my life that have someone over the age of 18 buy pods, vape juice, etc. for them because it’s just that easy. I have a friend that turned 18 today and the first thing she did was go into a gas station and buy a juul. 10 years ago your average 18 year old would use their new age of adulthood to buy some lottery tickets, and now we have teenagers craving to be 18 so they don’t have to have someone 18+ buy products for them. I think that if it the legal age to buy tobacco products would be moved back to at least 20, then new upcoming college students wouldn’t have the freedom to buy these products while they’re away from home and could potentially save themselves from one less distraction while making the harsh adjustment of being on their own.
Lastly, I think if it really comes down to it we could just take the production of e-cigarettes completely off the market and end any risk of nicotine addiction in general. Not even just for teens, but for adults as well. Cigarettes and vaping devices cause pollution to our breathable air and can also harm other people around them by catching second hand smoke. And while this might be hard to do because of the fact that e-cigarettes are an alternative for people that were once addicted to smoking regular cigarettes, it could just eliminate the smoking factor as a whole. Tobacco products are in no way necessary. They aren’t medically prescribed, or proven to benefit people in any way. Instead the only thing these products seem to really be doing is cause cancer, asthma, lung issues, respiratory issues, etc. And not to mention get people of all ages hooked in order for businesses to keep making money off of people with addiction.
Teen vaping is something that has taken over many countries and caused many incidents in schools, public facilities, etc. Friends, family, and teachers can only do so much on a big scale. Which is why it is important for us to continue spreading awareness and do everything we can to prevent the ones we love and care about from getting addicted to these harmful, chemical filled devices.