5 Reasons to Fight the Vaping Epidemic
Big Tobacco’s latest trick is as dangerous as ever — and it’s taking over the lives of millions of kids.
Their weapon of choice? E-cigarettes. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of high school students using e-cigarettes increased by 78%. This sudden rise has made the addictive devices the most commonly used tobacco products among middle and high schoolers.
Before you can fight the vaping epidemic, it’s important to understand it. There are many reasons why it’s so popular — but these five show why it’s so dangerous.
1) They’re easy to get. Even underage.
Despite age restrictions, it’s still too easy for kids to purchase vape products. Most retail websites have easy-to-bypass age restrictions and names that wouldn’t stand out on parents’ credit card statements.
The same goes in stores. Many convenience store clerks don’t check IDs, even though they’re required to by law. Without proper IDing, kids risk a lifetime of addiction – and no one is held accountable.
2) Sweet flavors get them started.
Big Tobacco is sweet on kids. Why? Their business depends on creating lifelong consumers. That’s why they’ve resorted to a classic recipe: kid-friendly flavorings.
There are over 15,000 flavors of vape juice on the market. The majority of them bear kid-friendly branding. Cotton candy? Apple pie? Unicorn Puke? Vape companies are battling to come up with the craziest flavors — and children are caught in the crossfire.
More than 85% of e-cigarette users between the ages of 12 and 17 use flavorings, making them a crucial reason why kids start. In fact, 4 out of 5 kids who have used tobacco started with a flavored product.
Where has the FDA been in all of this? In January 2020, the agency banned the sale of flavored e-cigarette cartridges or “pods.” Unfortunately, the ban is full of dangerous loopholes. Menthol flavored vapes, flavored disposable vapes and flavored refillable vape juices remain on the market. This February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a more comprehensive ban. It’s aimed at all flavored tobacco products, including menthol. The new bill is a step in the right direction, but its fate — and the fate of our youth — is far from certain.
3) Nicotine gets them hooked.
JUUL is the biggest name in the e-cigarette game. In 2018, the Silicon Valley-based startup received a $13 billion investment from Altria, the makers of Marlboro cigarettes.
The secret to JUUL’s success? Kids just can’t quit.
One JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. Since JUUL pods seem like small serving sizes, people can easily tear through them without realizing what they’re doing to their bodies. Plus, 63% of JUUL users don’t know that the product always contains nicotine. That’s led many young people to start — and never stop.
4) Nicotine is poisonous.
Brains are never the same after they come in contact with nicotine.
After using a tobacco product, the brain forms nicotine receptors. These structures release dopamine when nicotine enters the body. The issue? Using tobacco products causes more receptors to form. Soon, your body is calling out for nicotine all the time — and it’s hard to make it stop.
Nicotine is especially damaging to the teen brain, which is in a state of rapid development. At this age, tobacco use can lead to mood swings, anxiety, impulsivity, irritability and learning difficulties.
The scariest part? The damage can linger for the rest of their lives.
5) Easy to hide. Hard to spot.
Vape companies often disguise e-cigarettes and vape juice as innocent items. It keeps parents unaware — and kids hooked.
Examples are everywhere. Many vape juice brands use packaging that looks like food, from popcorn to candy to juice boxes. Vapes that look like pens and highlighters are common, and JUUL’s devices look like sleek flashdrives.
It’s easy to see why kids like these products. Can you spot the difference?