Vapes go up in smoke

Unhealthy, harmful or even worse than we thought?

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It is pretty frightening how many people around Suffolk University’s campus are using a Juul or some form of vaping device. They are in our classrooms, lounge areas, bathrooms and outside of the school’s buildings — everywhere we go, there are young people with their hands up to their mouths trying to hide the small, plastic devices they’re vaping.

Some states have recently started to enact bans against not only selling the flavored vaping pods that Juul is famous for, but now also prohibiting the sale of any and all forms of electronic cigarettes and devices.

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker was one of the latest government officials to take action against this issue, banning the sale of all vaping products for a four-month period. This ban is a result of his effort to “allow the medical community and federal officials time to investigate what’s driving the spike in illnesses,” according to The Boston Globe.

There are plenty of other things – such as alcohol, drugs and violence, that all have much higher numbers in terms of victims – so why are these vaping companies under so much scrutiny for their comparatively small amount of illnesses and deaths?

Well, the already astounding number of vaping-related illnesses continues to rise each week, recently reaching “more than 800 cases of the lung illness that have been reported across the country,” according to NBC.

But the main reason people truly care about this problem is because they believe that these companies are specifically targeting younger people through their marketing campaigns as well as their use of a variety of different flavored products. By the looks of things, these companies are hitting the exact demographic that people believe they are targeting.

One company in particular, Juul Labs Inc., is facing the most scrutiny as a result of them allegedly continuing to sell and market towards teenagers and young adults. After seeing one or two of their commercials, it is hard to argue against these accusations towards Juul. Not only do the majority of their actors and actresses look to be no older than 30, they make it a point to advertise their more brightly colored, fruity flavors.

Boston City Smoke Shop employee Leon Brewer said that “most people that come in [to the shop] to buy Juuls or Juul pods are between the ages of 21 and about 25.”

On the one hand, placing bans on selling all electronic cigarette products could encourage young adults to do some further research into whether the products they are using on a daily basis are dangerous or not. Even a small amount of research would show these young people that it is not just unhealthy, it is extremely harmful both mentally and physically and could result in some serious, long-term health issues.

While the imminent health issues alone should dissuade users from re-purchasing these products, it unfortunately does not. Similar to the victims of natural disasters, the people that don’t feel they will be affected who adopt a “it’ll never happen to me” mentality could be the ones who are harmed the most.

The hard truth is that anyone who uses these vaping products is just as susceptible to this mysterious lung-illness as anyone else who uses them. Because these illnesses have only recently started occurring, we do not have enough research to help identify the specific cause and as a result, they are incurable.

Furthermore, placing a ban on these vaping products is only a small barrier for the average Juul user. These new laws are not nationwide, so what is to stop someone from traveling an hour to N.H. and buying any product not available in Mass.? N.Y., Mich., and now Mass. are the only states that have laws prohibiting the selling of vape products, according to The Washington Post.

All in all, figuring out a way to minimize the amount of young people using the Juul and other vaping products is really the ultimate goal. Teenagers and young adults unknowingly being sucked into a cycle of constant urges and unhealthy habits is bad enough, but when it starts to have serious physical consequences and even fatal repercussions, it is an issue that is worse than we originally thought.

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