In this day and age, smoking has attempted to evolve and transform to fit into a higher standard of health for older smokers struggling to quit. Unfortunately, by claiming e-cigarettes and other tobacco alternatives are a healthier version of smoking, teens have developed the idea that the new wave of electronic cigarettes are a clean drug with no harmful effects.
In reality, they generally have the same risk. One of the most popular e-cigarettes, Juul, has become infamous for getting into the hands of today’s youth. In response to this, the FDA has officially labeled Juuling and Vaping as an epidemic. They have given the companies that distribute them 60 days to prove how they plan to keep these drugs out of the hands of teens.
The issue many parents have with Vaping and Juuling is that the vapor they sell comes in flavors . Some of these flavors are obviously marketed towards the younger generation with flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy.
“The tobacco industry is well aware that flavored tobacco products appeal to youth and has taken advantage of this by marketing them in a wide range of fruit and candy flavors. Their strategy is working too well, unfortunately,” said American Heart Association CEO, Nancy Brown.
The flavors are not the only issue. There are many claims that vaping is a “healthy” alternative to smoking. Even though vaping involves water vapor nicotine is still present, and studies have even found traces of formaldehyde which poses even more risk.
“Vaping has become so prevalent among U.S. high school students that it’s graduated to ‘risky behavior’ status. The fact that e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine products have surged in popularity with such an impressionable age group is extremely alarming,” said Brown. “All tobacco products are dangerous, and their ongoing use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”
More specifically the effects that vaping has on the human body are very similar to the effects that normal tobacco smoking has.
“Common sense would tell you [that vaping] leads to inflammation within the lung,” says Dr. Cedric “Jaime” Rutland, a pulmonary and critical care physician and assistant clinical professor at University of California.
Vaping even has some risks that normal cigarettes don’t. For example, since Juuls and other e-cigarettes are electronic, they can malfunction.
According to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) report, some children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing and absorbing the vape liquid through their eyes and skin.
The most alarming thing to come out of this issue is the exponential increase of teens who vape in the last couple of years, starting from a measly 1.5 percent of high school students in 2011 to a shocking 12 percent in only seven years.
“We’re in possession of data that shows a disturbingly sharp rise in the number of teens using e-cigarettes in just the last year,” says Scott Gottlieb, an FDA commissioner. “we have an obligation to act on what we know. And what we know is very disturbing.”
What’s important now is for the FDA to take charge of the situation and take some actions in order to lower the high number of teenage vapers.
“The FDA, which can regulate e-cigarettes, but has not exercised this full power yet, but would explore ways to make tobacco products less toxic, less addictive and less appealing,” said Gottlieb.
It’s imperative for the FDA to try and solve the issue and set precedents that will protect future children and teens from the money-hungry tobacco companies that prey upon the youth of this country.
“We’re going to hold industry participants responsible for actions that promote youth addiction. There’s no acceptable number of children using tobacco products,” says Gottlieb.
Matthew Menendez // Staff Writer