Vaping Takes Control of Teens
The teen vaping epidemic persists. Nicotine is an addictive substance that is found in most e-cigarettes, including the most popular product, juuls. Teenagers using vaping products are killing them due to the long term effects of nicotine, which include: increased risk of heart disease, circulatory problems, and increased risk of stroke and brain damage. 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. Interestingly, the juul was designed as an alternative to cigarettes for addicted smokers and by addicted smokers. But when anyone picks up an e-cigarette first, they are three times more likely to smoke a cigarette, causing a new generation of nicotine addicts.
The advertisement for e-cigarettes appeals to teenagers, from the sleek-smooth look, to the tiny size of the product to the enticing fun flavors of crème brûlée and mango. Juul Labs may have wanted to help current smoking addicts, but that was not there only intention. They’ve geared their marketing towards a vulnerable generation to become a more successful business.
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. 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. There is nothing stopping teens from using other flavors because teens aren’t addicted to the taste of e-cigarettes, but the nicotine in them.
The teens that are already addicted to e-cigarettes care little about the flavor because they’re craving nicotine. The ban of flavored pods would only possibly help teens who’ve never been exposed to e-cigarettes, but how can they resist when it looks so cool?
Teens live for the thrill of knowingly doing something wrong and trying to get away with it. The fact that it is illegal to be smoking is seen as “cool” and “popular.” Because all the flavors of pods include nicotine, teens already addicted will just buy any flavor available. Banning flavors that do not taste like tobacco will not solve this crisis- it will only push teen nicotine addicts into another direction, and possibly an even worse one.
Cutting off the access teens have to e-cigarettes will only lead them into other detrimental options. Informative advertising strategies will help pressure teens to know it is time to stop, once proven with cold hard facts.
It is not surprising that the government’s campaign against vaping for teens has failed, along with little effort from schools to educate their students of the long term effects of nicotine in most vaping products. Teenagers will not stop vaping until it is drilled into their brain that vaping is dangerous and there is living proof of it. 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 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.
All e-cigarette companies are at fault because it is the oil that heats up the nicotine in e-cigarettes that cause these deadly symptoms. Not only is nicotine a fatal factor that plays a role in vaping, but so is the actual instrument. Teens are naive, vulnerable, and close minded. They need our help to press crucial facts against them and we need to urge them to save their own life.
There needs to be commercials and banners hung that disclose the harmful effects of nicotine and oil in e-cigarettes. 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. Why is it that only one commercial is worth recalling? There should be dozens of more informative commercials on television, on websites, on billboards to rescue this generation from circling the drain. We need the heart wrenching “juuling killed my dad” commercials to persuade kids that it’s dangerous to vape!
Health classes could also educate middle school and high school students that vaping is harmful to the body in the same way they made the D.A.R.E. program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). The program educated students from 1983 to 2009 to prevent them from drugs, gangs, and violent behavior. It was especially geared toward cigarette prevention and other drugs but was extremely memorable. The constant information from this program is what is needed to prevent kids from vaping.
If the government, media, and schools used these strategies of enforcing the law, developing influential commercials, and providing educational programs for young adults, future teens and the current teens in trouble can be saved.