Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump announced that he plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes in the United States in an attempt to keep these products away from teenagers. His announcement comes after reports of e-cigarettes causing a new lung illness in hundreds of people throughout the country. I agree with this proposed ban for a number of reasons and believe that it is only the first step in stopping the rampant development of nicotine addiction among today’s youth.
The emergence and growing popularity of e-cigarettes over the past decade has been alarmingly rapid and expansive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that use of e-cigarettes among middle school and high school students has increased from 2011 to 2018. One in every 20 middle schoolers admits to use of e-cigarette products. One in every five of high schoolers admits to use of e-cigarette products as well.
To someone who is only two years removed from being a teenager, this information is not surprising at all. The discrete nature of e-cigarettes allows teenagers to foster this dangerous habit known as vaping in secret. Before the emergence of e-cigarettes, it was much harder to have a nicotine addiction without your disapproving parents being able to tell. Cigarettes make you stink, and you have to go outside to smoke them unless you want your house to stink too. E-cigarettes, however, don’t leave much of a smell. When they do, it is normally a fruity scent that can be mistaken for perfume or candy, allowing a much higher intake of nicotine, in general.
I personally know several people at St. Bonaventure who own e-cigarettes and smoke them constantly throughout the day. The most popular e-cigarette tends to be the Juul because of its incredibly small design and ease of use. I’ve been told it’s quite common for a Juul user to go through a pod (premade capsule with nicotine juice) every one to two days. One pod contains the nicotine content of a pack of cigarettes. Most “pack-a-day” smokers have been smoking for years, but teenagers find themselves developing an equivalent nicotine intake in just a few months. Vape users can vape nearly anywhere and at anytime, a major distinction from somebody who smokes cigarettes. Cigarette smokers take “breaks” to smoke, meaning that they go usually between 30 minutes to an hour between cigarettes. Vapers are able to constantly hit their devices discreetly in almost any environment which, in turn, skyrockets their nicotine intake, making them extremely dependent, extremely fast.
One of the biggest allures to vaping is that it is widely marketed as a much safer alternative to tobacco products. This claim lured many people into a false sense of security regarding their health. However, the FDA has said that Juul illegally marketed their products as safer than tobacco products.
The nature of e-cigarettes heavily supports underage use and addiction: incredibly discreet, tasting like candy and more addicting than traditional cigarettes. Before the introduction of e-cigarettes, it was quite normal for people to find the taste and smell of cigarettes to be off putting, and that acted as a natural deterrent to smoking all together. Things have changed, and now nicotine intake is characterized by fruity, gourmet flavors that appeal to younger audiences.
While banning the sale of fruity e-liquids can help combat the use of these devices by teenagers, it is apparent that e-cigarettes have become widely popular among today’s youth and there needs to be more measures put in place to prevent lifelong addictions and health risks.
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