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E-cigarettes a threat to high schoolers

Hannah Harkins, Staffer

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E-cigarette usage among high schoolers has quickly become a common sight throughout the United States. A 2016 report by the US surgeon general showed that between 2011 and 2015 the percentage of high schoolers who have used an e-cigarette, or vaped, had increased by 900%, and it is only continuing to surge.

While it is illegal in the U.S. for minors under the age of 18 to purchase and use e-cigarettes, it is not difficult to find them online from dealers or buy them from older students or siblings that are of the legal age.

Many people believe that e-cigarette brands target teenagers with fruity flavors and juvenile marketing campaigns, which makes them seem more pleasing to high school students. Candy-like flavors such as tutti frutti and mango are common flavors of e-cigarettes. These types of flavors are typically more appealing to a younger demographic and less aimed towards adults. Juul, a very well-known e-cigarette brand, has made their product resemble a flash drive, making it easy to conceal and hide from parents.

Many teenagers do not realize the negative effects that vaping has on a person’s health since they are not inhaling smoke, as they would be when smoking a cigarette. Common chemicals that are found in these devices are propylene glycol (a substance found in antifreeze), nicotine, diacetyl (a chemical linked to lung disease), and heavy metals such as nickel, lead, and tin. Studies have also shown that finishing off one Juul is the equivalent to smoking an entire pack of cigarettes.

Most students don’t even realize that they are inhaling substances other than water vapor. In the Monitoring the Future survey taken in 2017, about 55% percent of high schoolers said that they thought the devices contained only water and flavoring.

While the reasons for such a high number of vaping students differ, a common cause is a sense of freedom that is given to the student.

“If they have overprotective parents or something, and they feel like they can get away from that, then they are gonna do anything they can to be rebellious, and that’s what vaping is, them rebelling,” freshman Tess Stanford said.

Despite the many negative effects of vaping, many people believe that the increasing number of vaping teens is causing the number of teens who smoke cigarettes to decrease. According to Science News for Students, in 2013 the ratio of teen smokers to vapers was three to one, but now it has taken a sharp turn in the other direction, and the ratio has changed to one to two. While the opinion that vaping is healthier than smoking is controversial, it is believed to be a step in the correct direction in lessening the number of teenage smokers.

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E-cigarettes a threat to high schoolers