Dismantling Vape Nation

A staff editorial

Every generation has a defining event. For the Baby Boomers it was the Kennedy assasination and for Generation X it was the Challenger explosion. Our generation is in a sticky spot, Most of us fall in the overlap of two generations, we don’t have a set Identity. It is commonly believed that Millennials were born between 1980 to the early 2000’s, On the other hand Generation Z is said to be born between the mid-1990’s to the mid-2000’s. What identifies and defines our generation? The current answer is the vaping epidemic.

Current attempts at fixing this issue are not working. The American Legacy Foundation, a non-profit organization in charge of the Truth campaign, approaches the issue with the attempt to scare teens into submission. They use creative visuals and wording to try and get teens to avoid vaping. These tactics come across as impersonal;the videos they make are blasted across social media constantly and have become overplayed. They should be focusing on making teens care about their health so they don’t ruin it by vaping.

The leading causes of vaping in teens are experimentation, boredom, relaxation, a desire to quit smoking, a form of rebellion, and simply for the fact that they enjoy the taste. Despite there being a legal age to purchase a JUUL or other nicotine products, teens are still getting their hands on them through dealers who don’t ask for identification or by using means that don’t require identification, such as ordering online.

According to JUUL’s website the nicotine content in one JUULpod is equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. Due to the high nicotine content, JUUL’s are highly addictive. This, paired with the fact that teens are highly susceptible to addiction, makes JUULing a major issue that damages teens’ health and their ability to focus. A recent study found that vaping can cause lung irritation similar to the irritation seen in smokers and people with lung disease. Vaping has also been found to cause damage to vital immune system cells. Additionally, it has been shown that vaping increases heart rate and blood pressure, meaning it can heighten circulatory problems. The most concerning element of vaping, however, are the studies that link the carcinogenic compounds found in e-cigarettes and similar devices to the increased, and previously unseen, rates of cancer in teens and young adults.

So what can we do on a grassroots level to help address these health concerns in our peer group and community? Bringing awareness to the health risks and the negative impacts on one’s life is a good start, but what we need to do is make the issue seem more human. Bringing awareness to these issues is important because no change will be made unless teens start caring about their health.

The school district has a desire to fix this problem but they are doing the bare minimum. What needs to be done is to provide students with the resources and support they need. For example, hiring a counselor who is specially trained in drug use and abuse. Someone who the students could go talk to and figure out the root of their problem. The current counselors are arguably not qualified enough. Whether or not students will use this resource is up to them as teens are stubborn and tend not to care, but letting them know they have a resource to help curb their addiction may make more of an impact than expected.

If we don’t want our generation to be known as the generation of vaping we need to find a way to curb this epidemic. Though these solutions may not work consistently, they are a good start.