Vaping needs to be nipped in the bud

Lauren Heller, Reporter

Have you ever heard someone say that their Juul “isn’t as bad as smoking cigs?”

This is one of the many lies we’ve been told by the same companies who lied to our parents and grandparents throughout the 1940s and 1950s about cigarettes.

As a college student today, it disgusts me to see that my peers are still just as addicted to nicotine as our parents and grandparents were. I watch some of my best friends pass around a Juul, a Novo or an e-cigarette at parties like it’s nothing.

Graphic by Lauren Heller – Reporter

Vaping isn’t as bad as smoking, they tell me.

In reality, the “juice” in these devices contain more than just nicotine, water and flavoring.

“However, in reality, most e-cigarettes contain numerous chemicals – most commonly propylene glycol, glycerin, formaldehyde, and acrolein – chemicals that, when inhaled, can do serious damage to the lungs,” said Saul Miller, physician assistant for California Lutheran University’s Health Services, in an email interview.

Vaping also increases risk of developing various cancers and illnesses, such as lung failure and lung cancer.

Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, teen and young adults who vape are at an increased risk for contracting COVID-19, even though this group has some of the lowest chances of being hospitalized with the virus.

Of course, drinking and other vices are not good for our health either, but you would think after smoking has been largely banned in most public settings in the U.S., we would know better.

The CDC said smoking prohibitions were put into place to “[improve] in health outcomes, such as reductions in hospital admissions for heart attacks […] Smokefree laws also can make it easier for people who smoke to quit, reducing their risk of disease.”

I can’t blame my peers for trying it and getting hooked. E-cigarette companies have specifically targeted young people with their flavored pods with flavors like rocket pop, gush, funnel cake and tropical punch.

It’s no wonder kids get hooked with these flavors.

“We remain committed to using all available tools to ensure that e-cigarettes and other tobacco products aren’t being marketed or sold to kids. We’ve also put the industry on notice: If the disturbing rise in youth e-cigarette use continues, especially through the use of flavors that appeal to kids, we’ll take even more aggressive action,” said the acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. in a 2019 CDC press release.

Only four months later, the CDC came out and said they will ban the “manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes.”

These companies are freakishly good at marketing to children. Ten days after that CDC press announcement was released, a 15-year old became the youngest person to ever die from vaping-related causes.

“The main company that produces e-cigs is Altria–the owner of Juul. Altria… also happens to produce the most popular cigarette brand in the United States–Marlboro,” Miller said. “Simply look back at who is profiting from the vaping products. If the largest manufacturer of e-cigs is also behind the most popular cigarette in the United States, I think that tells you a great deal about what they believe e-cigs will do for their ‘smoking’ business.”

As someone who has never used a nicotine device, I don’t understand the hype. It doesn’t seem worth it when I think of my relatives who have had lung complications due to smoking.

Fortunately, I am able to see the damage vaping has done to my peers from the outside in. Because I have never tried it, nor ever been addicted, I worry for my peers when I think about how their behavior changes when they vape.

I believe that people who vape don’t understand how they are being played and manipulated by the substances in the devices and the big nicotine companies that sell them.

Vaping is the new smoking.

I don’t get how people don’t understand that they are putting the same chemicals into their bodies that decades of science and research have told us not to.

I think a proper analogy would be comparing the safety of a parachute that only opens 50% of the time to a new parachute made by the same company that hasn’t been fully tested yet,” Miller said.

I think about a good friend of mine who vapes several times a day, and I worry whether or not they’ll be sneaking off to hit their vape at their wedding or their future child’s soccer game.

Even though they tell me they have it under control, I know that they are not the one who ultimately gets to decide that, nor are they really in control.

It’s especially concerning since human lives were already given a second chance after society walked back their views about cigarettes being “healthy.”

We seem to have forgotten the drastic measures the previous generations have taken to protect us from making the same mistake again.

Despite all the known risks that could result from vapes and e-cigs, people still use them.

I’m not here to shame those who vape. Instead, I want to raise awareness about everything you’re choosing when you use these devices.

It’s easy to forget the chemicals you’re inhaling in each hit from a vape when you’re doing it for clout or a head rush.

Vaping is as if you were told you need oxygen to breathe, but held your breath anyway.