Vaping Takes Control of Teens
The teen vaping epidemic persists. The government, media, and schools must do a better job in educating the young malleable minds of teenagers through informative advertising strategies. This year the rate of teen e-cigarette users more than doubled since 2017, according to the University of Michigan. The University gathered research on how much high school students used nicotine over different time periods. In 2017, 8% of 10th graders used nicotine in the last month. In 2019, that number almost tripled at 20% using nicotine.
When the nicotine issue was addressed to the secretary of health and human professions in the White House, Alex Azar II, called for an insufficient proposition. He claimed he will draft a ban on most flavored e-cigarettes like mint and menthol. Dr. Sharon Levy is mistaken to believe the flavor ban is effective because what will stop teens from using other flavors? Teens aren’t addicted to the taste of e-cigarettes, but the nicotine in them. Companies will just figure out a way around the ban too.
When flavored pods were first banned for juuls in September, it just pushed teens towards new flavors. Mr. Azar even admits himself that banning flavored pods for juuls just caused teens to shift from fruity flavors to mint and menthol, which was still available at the time and did not help the vaping crisis.
Teens are creative, sneaky, and devious. They will not stop concocting ways to get around these bans legally or illegally. They live for the thrill of knowingly doing something wrong and trying not to get caught. That is just what teenagers are about and banning flavors will not end this epidemic. The fact that it is illegal to be smoking is seen as “cool” and “popular.” Banning non nicotine flavors will not solve this crisis- it will only push them into another direction, and possibly an even worse one.
The campaigns against vaping for teens have all failed by government agencies, the vaping industry, and schools, which isn’t a surprise. Teenagers will not stop vaping until it is drilled into their brain that vaping is bad for them and there is living proof. Many teens believe that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes. While there are less chemicals and the amounts are lower in e-cigarettes, there is still cause for concern. E-cigarettes contain carcinogens such as benzene that cause health risks. Also, e-cigarette companies don’t fully disclose their ingredients either leading to more chemicals and nicotine being ingested.
There are already commercials educating teens on the damaging effects of juuling but it’s not enough. They need to be informed of all the potential risks and know people are actually suffering because of vaping. Dr. Pirzada has treated a total of 215 patients with mysterious and life threatening vaping related illnesses this summer and calls it an epidemic herself. The patients suffered from fatigue, fever, severe shortness of breath, vomiting for days, and some have been put on a ventilator for weeks or ended up in the intensive care unit. This is a deadly problem that needs to be solved urgently.
There needs to be commercials and banners hung that say E-cigarettes contain carcinogens. Truth TV does an excellent job communicating that one juul pod is equal to 20 cigarettes of nicotine. This is a scary and influential fact, however we need more exposure to save our teenagers. We need the heart wrenching “juuling killed my dad” commercials to persuade kids that it’s dangerous.
In 2014, nearly 2 million smokers were inspired to quit by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention Tips ad. The campaign for cigarette smokers to quit needs to be as strong for the vaping campaign. There is evidence that show, “emotionally evocative media campaigns featuring graphic images of smoking-related diseases are effective in motivating smokers to quit” according to Tobacco Free Florida. There have been plenty of heart wrenching anti smoking commercials and there should be a demand for vaping as well.
The known effects of cigarettes and the exposure teens received in the classroom, on commercials, billboards, and just being around smokers influenced teens not to smoke cigarettes. In 2018, 8.1% of high school students smoked a cigarette, however; 20.8% used e-cigarettes that same year. Without legitimate facts that vaping is damaging the body, the campaign to stop e-cigarette use among minors is inadequate and will not succeed.
Strict laws will reduce the number of teen smokers. The University of Southern California discovered that in areas where retail stores containing tobacco products were more strictly policed, teens were a third less likely to try cigarettes or e-cigarettes compared to areas where the law was being neglected. There is more hope to save teens if the laws were just enforced.