All of us are familiar with the teenager’s drive towards rebellion. Whether through music, fashion styles, or behavior, those at a crossroads between childhood and adulthood are relentlessly searching for ways to prove themselves different, unique, and, therefore, worthy of belonging to a social group. For each teenager, the target, social acceptance, is identical; what differs is the path. Considering the mountainous pressure sitting on their shoulders, some teenagers might inquire into easier, instantly rewarding ways of making themselves known as “hip & cool.”
Unfortunately, some life choices bear consequences that impose themselves on the teenager’s future. More than twenty years ago, cigarette smokers made up more than 36% percent of all high school students across the U.S. Fortunately, through copious awareness campaigns and stricter regulations against tobacco smoking, fewer and fewer teenagers fall prey to nicotine addiction. However, what happens when the same drug is marketed in a prettier, shinier package? That is precisely what e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other vaping devices such as Juul propose – a healthier alternative to traditional smoking.
Why Do Teenagers Vape?
The response from teenagers is troubling, to say the least – in the U.S. alone, 27.5% of high school students use vaping products, and 5 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. So this supposedly healthier way of smoking is nowadays prevailing amongst the young population, and why?
- #1 – Teenagers honestly believe that vaping poses fewer health risks than traditional smoking.
- #2 – Vaping alternatives are less costly than average cigarette packs.
- #3 – Vaping products contain a myriad of flavors, from apple to watermelon, that appeal to younger customers.
Why Vaping Is Not a True Alternative to Traditional Smoking
Teenagers who fall into the vaping trap easily find “excuses” to defend their vice. As a rule of thumb, the most cited defense strategies against “non-vapers” revolve around the following beliefs: that vaping entails fewer chemicals than traditional smoking and that vaping is a prolific alternative to cigarettes.
However, do these beliefs hold water? Quite the contrary, according to scientific research, which found that the heated nicotine, the flavorings, and the other chemicals contained in the e-liquid formulas can cause long-term lung injuries and death. Furthermore, a concerning number of vapers add tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-based products and CBD oil to their favorite e-liquids. Although harmless fun to some, such products contain vitamin E acetate. This oily thickening agent sticks to the pulmonary tissue, aggravating lung diseases or EVALI (E-cigarettes or Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury); quite the red flag, considering that we have already had a “vaping epidemic” with 60 casualties not long ago.
Still, vapers reject these statements and portrait vaping as a safe method for quitting smoking. How accurate is that claim? If not true, then at least deceitful, since e-liquids contain nicotine, a highly addictive, toxic substance. With its harmful effects on blood pressure, adrenaline, and heart rate, nicotine is one of our society’s most culpable chronic lung disease, asthma, and cardiovascular disease culprits.
So how can a nicotine-containing product cause a smoker to renounce nicotine altogether? How can a drug that acts faster than heroin cause its own demise? Clearly, “chasing away the dog by inviting the tiger inside” could never work, and that is the main reason why the FDA disapproves of e-cigarettes as a quit-smoking aid. On the contrary, research pointed out that smokers who infrequently use e-cigarettes will only worsen their addiction; instead of substituting the problem, we must remove it altogether.
“But There Are No E-cigarette Toxicity Studies”
When all lines of defense falter, vapers bring to light the last ace up their sleeves – lack of e-cigarette toxicity studies. Although toxicity, oxidation, and inflammation were proven as side effects of vaping, no conclusive, long-term study that analyzes the physical effects of vaping has been concluded. In other words, the evidence is there, though not in sufficient amounts.
Such a line of thought can be dangerous and discredit future research and awareness campaigns. We already have a precedent in traditional smoking – although popular in the first decades after WW2, traditional smoking lost its appeal at the end of the last century due to conclusive studies, awareness campaigns, and a shared interest towards health amelioration nationwide. A great victory for a healthy lifestyle, but what about the generations that indulged in excessive tobacco consumption before cigarettes lost ground? We would be wise to learn from this terrible lesson and look towards enhancing our children’s future in a smoke-free world.
There Is No Avoiding E-cigarette Risks
It is chilling to read that nearly one in five deaths across the U.S. is cigarette-smoke-related and think that, someday, vaping will become as deadly, if not more. Despite the “cool” factor it might bring, vaping goes hand in hand with troubling health risks. From periodontal disease and irritation to cell dysfunction and DNA damage, vaping is taking a heavy toll on our younger generations.
However, positive change is waiting right around the corner. For those who want their lives to take a turn for the better, we are here to tell them that quitting is easier than it sounds! If you are ready to enhance your well-being, make sure that you check out the following webpage for FDA-approved smoking cessation options.