The High School Vaping Epidemic

By Alec Nunez

In recent months, high school students seem to have taken up a new fixation: vaping. This new trend was acknowledged in a recent report by the US surgeon general, claiming a 900% increase in e-cig use by students in high school from 2011 to 2015.  Furthermore, the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey states 1.7 million high school students are said to have admitted to using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. This spike has prompted concerns as to tobacco companies’ intents, questioning whether or not they intentionally appeal to a younger demographic.

The main proponent to this appeal is at the head of the e-cig flavors, including types such as cotton candy and sour gummy worms. According to Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, these flavors are appealing to kids and can act as a gateway to other tobacco products—as demonstrated by a statistic that claims 1 in 5 eighth-graders who use tobacco products started with e-cigarettes. The flavors aren’t the only problem now, the problem is the cigarette as a whole with its catalytic properties.

So how is this trend plaguing high schools? Jennifer Walden, of King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, Massachusetts, has claimed to have discovered students vaping even during class. “They had their hands kind of up…and they had a blue light coming in between their hands,” recounts Walden. According to the school principal, the most popular form is a “juul” that closely resembles a flash drive. This stark resemblance only furthers the problem as it allows students to easily conceal the device.

Many students who use these devices are not aware of the dangers they impose on their bodies. This lack of information can be potentially detrimental to generations to come if this trend were to continue, as more and more kids would begin to catch wave of the trend and eventually induce deterioration upon their bodies.

Inside each e-device is what is called “e-liquid.” Research conducted discovered chromium, nickel, zinc, and lead. Prior to being heated by the device, amounts of lead were practically unobservable. However, after being heated, levels of lead became 25 times higher. Lead is a deadly compound when it comes in contact with the human body. High amounts of lead in the body result in what is called acute toxicity. This toxicity causes irreparable damage to the body’s nervous system and can even lead to learning disabilities, high blood pressure, and even death.

This trend demonstrates a lack of concern for health in today’s youth. These studies are indicative of social acceptance taking a forefront rather than personal safety and health, a potentially dangerous and lethal change in society.

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