The Suffolk Journal

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Vaping: The potential risks should not be taken lightly

The FDA has begun a crack down on vaping and e-cigarettes in wake of an epidemic of young people actively using them.

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There has been multiple times since I’ve been in Boston that someone was vaping in front of me only for the resulting smoke to hit me head on. I’m sure we all have been there too many times.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently declared that the use of electronic cigarettes – or vapes – among teenagers has reached “an epidemic proportion” and that the makers of these devices have 60 days to come up with a plan to curb teenage usage before a potential ban.

The issues surrounding vapes divides many. Some believe that e-cigarettes are full of risks that teenagers should not be allowed to use whereas others believe e-cigarettes are safe devices that should not be in control of the government or schools.

E-cigarettes are harmful devices and the FDA and schools should be allowed to regulate usage especially among young people. There is no doubt that e-cigarettes have been a growing problem in recent years, with 2 million United State’s students reporting using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days in 2016, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report stated.

E-cigarettes, also known as vapes or a Juul – named after the popular e-cigarette company – can be made to resemble everyday items like a pen or flash drive– which the Juul is known to look like after its sleek and simple design. More traditional e-cigarettes are usually bulkier due to the battery or heating element whereas the Juul is all contained in the USB-like structure. Perhaps this is why teenagers are so drawn to the Juul. It’s attractive, easy to be concealed, and it’s easy to convince others that the device is not a vape, but a flash drive.

In a study conducted by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggests that many young people are able to identify the Juul, but don’t seem to be aware of the potential harms. In this survey, youth between the ages of 15 to 24 had to identify e-cigarette devices. Of the youth surveyed, a quarter recognized the Juul and 10 percent have tried the Juul device.

Vaping and “juuling” is a huge problem and it’s important that the government is beginning to acknowledge the epidemic among young people. The government should be allowed to control the usage of e-cigarettes.

There is still much unknown about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes, but according to the CDC, e-cigarettes consist of nicotine, cancer-causing chemicals, harmful flavoring, and ultrafine particles. E-cigarettes do have the potential to show benefits in adult smokers, but they were not designed for young people.

Yes, they are less harmful than cigarettes, but that does not mean e-cigarettes are safer. You can still get addicted to nicotine from a vaping device. Vaping can also lead to cigarette use down the road which has more consequences beyond vaping. As vaping is on the rise, an increase in cigarette usage is projected.

According to Medical News Today, there is a developing condition among frequent e-cigarette users called Popcorn Lung. This is due to a certain flavoring in the devices, which causes serious lung problems. These chemicals that are breathed in can also cause damage to your eyes, skin, nose, and mouth.

Clearly, young people vape to fit in. A survey from Monitoring the Future, reported that nearly a third of high school seniors vaped in 2017. Additionally, social media is filled with posts of vaping devices including the Juul. Young people are easily influenced and there is always pressure to go with the crowd. Because of this many think vaping is the right thing to do because their friends do it. The FDA may be cracking down on underage usage, but this pressure among young people will always remain.

Beyond FDA control, even schools are trying to curb e-cigarette usage. According to Edutopia, schools are establishing anti-vaping campaigns and some schools are trying out vaping detectors in bathrooms.

There is no denying that underage usage is a huge problem. In the next few months, we should continue to see stricter FDA control of vaping devices. But for now education on the harmful effects of e-cigarette use is an effective way to decrease usage.

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Vaping: The potential risks should not be taken lightly