Vaping is better than smoking, right?

Samuel Ogali, Courier Staff

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Grape, fruit punch, mint, crème brûlée and mango-such flavors are synonymous with sweets and delicacies, but now are becoming increasingly popular flavors among electronic cigarettes and vaping products.

Throughout my years in high school and now in college, I’ve observed an exuberant amount of teenagers using vaping products. I’ve witnessed it in classrooms, during lunch, passing periods and even people stealing vaping products from others. The reason I’m writing this article is because I am curious and concerned about people my age becoming so dependent on vapes. Many argue that it’s better than cigarettes and therefore is safe and efficient. If our generation continues down this road, we may see many people suffering from serious health problems long-term.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 93 harmful or potentially harmful products, such as ammonia and carbon monoxide, were found in tobacco cigarettes. With such discoveries about tobacco cigarettes, such smokers were encouraged to to try e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking since it was found to be less harmful.

Unlike tobacco cigarettes which require an ignition of fire, the liquid in an e-cigarette is heated up in the device and inhaled as vapor. Since it did not have tobacco, e-cigarettes were being marketed as an alternative to decrease the amount of individuals who smoked each day and gradually used it as a way to encourage people to quit smoking products altogether.

Unfortunately, a product that was intended to ease adults off tobacco cigarettes has only seen more teenagers use such vaping products at an alarming rate.

“I am officially declaring e-cigarette use [vaping] among youth an epidemic in the United States,” Dr. Jerome Adams, the current U.S. Surgeon General said. It’s plausible for such a declaration to be made; in 2018, 11 percent of high school seniors, eight percent of 10th-graders and 3.5 percent of eighth-graders reported using vaping products, according to a survey by the University of Michigan.

Vaping products are consuming our generation. When teens are surveyed or even in my personal experience when I’ve asked friends if they were aware of such health risks associated with e-cigarettes, they seemed almost oblivious to such information.

The one chemical in e-cigarettes that is profoundly addictive is the use of nicotine. Nicotine causes people to crave smoking and consists of withdrawal symptoms when the person attempts to stop. According to Juul Labs, a company that produces the popular Juul vape, five percent of nicotine in one Juul Pod is roughly equivalent to a pack of tobacco cigarettes. In August 2018, Juul’s product accounted for 72 percent of e-cigarettes in the market.

When presented with the facts, many individuals may argue that they haven’t experienced such negative effects since consuming e-cigarettes, but similar to tobacco cigarettes, such effects could be felt on a long-term basis.

Diacetyl is a chemical that can cause bronchiolitis obliterans, which is a lung disease commonly known as “popcorn lung.” This results in tiny air sacs being scarred in the lungs which thickens and narrows the airways. Dicatly is unfortunately found in many vaping flavors, such as popular flavors like grape and mint. The consumption of these flavors may taste sweet and provide an instant sensation, but such effects long term can cause an increase shortness of breath, constant coughing and fatigue that was never intended when using these products to begin with.

Vaping products and e-cigarettes are easily accessible, especially in states like Illinois when the legal age to purchase a product is only 18. But the reason I’m writing this article is my level of concern and our willingness to ignore such important information in order to enjoy a head-rush. No matter what a person decides to do in their life, I am in no position to impose or force a person to conform to what I believe. It is my astonishment that numerous people my age haven’t learned from the previous generation the disastrous effects of smoking such as lung cancer, heart disease and tuberculosis. Whether its tobacco or mango flavored, the long-term effects are increasingly eroding our generation and will need to be addressed one way or another.

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