Strawberry, blueberry, mint and cotton candy clouds exhale from the lungs of teenagers. Electronic cigarette companies pocket the dollars of youth addicted to putting an e-cigarette to their lips, inhaling and letting the nicotine-induced product fill their lungs until their head feels a rush. There have been over 500 cases in over 38 states of vape-related lung illness—including eight deaths—according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With hundreds of teenagers hospitalized, the U.S. searches for ways to protect youth from vaping addiction.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan first banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York proposed an emergency regulation on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, according to the New York Times. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced plans to regulate e-cigarette industries and the sale of vaping products. Last week, the Trump administration announced it intended to ban the sale of cigarettes within the coming weeks.
However, a generation is already addicted. Eight people died. Hundreds of young people have lung illnesses. The only way to end the vaping epidemic in America is to be aware of how corrupt e-cigarette companies exploited young people to increase revenue, impacting the health of an entire generation. As college-aged people—a targeted age group of many e-cigarette companies—we must refrain from vaping, supporting vaping industries and increase awareness on how addictive products negatively impact our minds, bodies and futures.
E-cigarette companies are inconsiderate of the lives of youth, but are considerate of their sales and profit. According to the New York Times, Juul Labs—a major e-cigarette company—marketed their products as less harmful than tobacco products, without federal permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to advertise their products as a healthier alternative. Additionally, the Times reported that Juul Labs paid schools and youth camps to advertise the safety of their products. However, many vaping products contain nicotine, an extremely addictive substance—especially to youth.
The e-cigarette industry does not concern itself with the safety of young people. Juul Labs and other vape companies are aware of the highly addictive substances in their products. However, they advertise that their products are safer than tobacco products and they advertise to children. They produce flavored cartridges that makes vaping like candy. These companies are fully aware that by producing addictive products, they receive continual profit from addicted buyers.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, one in every four youths between the ages of 12 and 17 has vaped. The e-cigarette industry created a generation of nicotine addicts. Just one puff of nicotine releases highly addictive chemical charges throughout the brain, disrupting normal neuro activity. Due to misconceptions that vaping is a healthy alternative to tobacco advertised to youth and the extremely addictive capabilities of vaping, young people pick up e-cigarettes and never put them down.
However, vaping has become an epidemic. Due to the many young people that vape, having an e-cigarette or Juul product is seen as a social norm. When a young person vapes or hands their e-cigarette to their friend to try, people forget that it is a deadly device that causes lung illnesses. Instead, the vaping product is an opportunity to experience a head-rush and a thrill. Nicotine helps people forget about their problems and struggles for one moment.
While e-cigarette companies have illegally advertised their products and misinformed young consumers, as a generation, we have allowed ourselves to be addicted to instant gratification. The vaping epidemic is an example of this. Vaping may allow a feeling of escape for one moment, but it also may take away your livelihood, health—and in extreme cases—your life.
STOPPING THE INFLUENCE
Hundreds of people, especially youth, have already been negatively impacted by vaping. However, it is not too late to stop the trend of vape addiction and illness in this generation. Awareness of the dishonest advertisement patterns of e-cigarette companies to young people allows us to see that vaping products are innately harmful and unethical, as businesses lied in order to increase revenue, building profit from addiction.
While e-cigarette companies are responsible for false advertisement, we are responsible for allowing these businesses to captivate this generation. Our generation is buying the products. We are responsible for letting the addiction spread and manifest in this generation. The first step to end the addiction caused by vaping is to say no. As young people targeted by these harmful businesses, we should not allow the opportunity to escape or the pressures of those around us to convince us to compromise our health and our future. Rather than compromise our livelihoods for an instant thrill or gratification, we must end the vaping epidemic by deciding to say no to these products to begin with.