High school bathrooms have been smelling a lot better lately.
Mango, bubblegum and creme brulee are among some of the scents that one might notice even just passing by a school restroom. But the sweet aromas aren’t from perfume or a new line of Febreze that the custodial staff has been trying out. The smell is from vaping, a trend that has taken over the nation.
The modern e-cigarette was first introduced to the Chinese market in 2004 by inventor Hon Lik, who got the idea after his father– a heavy smoker– died of lung cancer. For many smokers that can’t break the habit, the devices seem like a good alternative to traditional cigarettes because they don’t contain tobacco.
But the false impression that vaping doesn’t carry its own risks is leading to an epidemic among the young generation– specifically high schoolers. Since many anti-smoking campaigns focus on combustible, tobacco-filled cigarettes, many adolescents might be unaware of the risks associated with the fun, fruity flavors of e-cigarettes. Rather than buying e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, many young users are vaping for pleasure– and as a result, are increasing their likelihood of smoking regular cigarettes in the future.
But the dangers linked to Big Tobacco are still infiltrating the lives of America’s youth under the guise of Big Vape– and it’s time that the government steps in and does something about it.
“E-cigarettes could lead to more than 1.5 million years of life lost because their use could substantially increase the number of adolescents and young adults who eventually become cigarette smokers,” Associate Professor at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice Samir Soneji said.
And while 66 percent of teens say they are vaping “just flavoring,” it doesn’t mean that they aren’t inhaling trace amounts of nicotine. Soneji states that even some e-juice that claims to be nicotine-free contains some of the stimulants. Not to mention, e-cigarettes without nicotine can still cause extensive lung damage, leading to health issues such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD).
But adolescents might not be considering these risks when they upload videos of themselves vaping to their Snapchat or Instagram stories.
Today’s teens know the harm that smoking conventional cigarettes can bring. Since childhood, they have been bombarded with anti-smoking ad campaigns from organizations such as The Real Cost and Tobacco Free Florida. Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) has been making appearances in classrooms since 1983. But the dangers linked to Big Tobacco are still infiltrating the lives of America’s youth under the guise of Big Vape– and it’s time that the government steps in and does something about it.
That’s why many were happy to hear the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s plans to increase regulations on flavored nicotine products, such as menthol cigarettes and sweet e-juice. The plans largely target products that are marketed toward young people, in response to the administration’s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which found a 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high schoolers in the past year.
When such a large number of high school students are exposed to vaping each and every day, parents and teachers are rightfully concerned that the practice can have unforeseen consequences on their health and future.
This announcement comes after the largest e-cigarette company in the United States, Juul, said that it would suspend the sale of flavored e-juice pods in stores and the promotion of products on social media.
The proposed regulations include limiting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in stores and bans on flavored cigars. This could have a significant impact on African-American youth specifically since they smoke flavored cigars and cigarettes at higher rates than other groups.
While some argue that the proposed regulations aren’t doing enough to keep the products out of teens’ hands, it’s undoubtedly an important move that can lead to other major changes in the e-cigarette industry.
When such a large number of high school students are exposed to vaping each and every day, parents and teachers are rightfully concerned that the practice can have unforeseen consequences on their health and future. Because the practice is relatively new, scientists still aren’t aware of all of the long-term health impacts that frequent e-cigarette use can bring.
Vaping in the bathroom at school is a way that many high schoolers relieve stress, socialize with friends or take a break from the chaos of rigorous course loads. But the cotton candy and s’mores scents that linger in bathroom stalls are a sign of a much more dangerous phenomenon. It’s about time that federal agencies step up to the task of protecting America’s youth.
Photo Courtesy of Change.org