Although teenage cigarette smoking ad campaigns like those made by Truth.com seem to have diminished the habit among teenagers, a new smoking trend seems to have emerged in the past few years. You may have encountered this trend of vaping either by seeing a vape pen like the JUUL and mistaking it for a USB drive or by walking behind a cotton candy-flavored puff of smoke. Electronic or ‘e-cigarettes’ were first introduced as a cigarette replacement.
The problem with these e-cigarettes is that they are instead being utilized by teenagers who do not already have a nicotine addiction who ultimately develop one through the use of e-cigarettes. In addition, a study by JAMA pediatrics found that found that 12- to 17-year-olds who vape are twice as likely to become regular smokers within a year. In that way, these vape pens like the JUUL are acting as a gateway drug for nicotine addiction which enables teenagers to switch from e-cigarettes to regular cigarettes in order to get their nicotine fix. These flavor pods have introduced the problem of targeting younger customers due to their pods that can be fruit or candy flavored which attracts teenagers. The FDA has been made aware of the risk these flavors may pose to teenage nicotine use and addiction and has made steps to make ban sale of e-cigarettes to minors. They have also considered steps in making vaping less attractive to teenagers.
Although the research is still being built on the potential effects of vaping on teenage nicotine usage, it is important for students to consider the following:
1. Don’t forget that e-cigarettes and vapes still have potential harmful health effects. The chemicals inside these products may include cancer-causing substances, may cause gum-disease, and trigger bronchitis.
2. Be aware of the age restrictions for e-cigarettes. The FDA bans minors from purchasing these products, and specific brands like JUUL even require that you are at least 21 years old in order to purchase.
3. These products contain nicotine. Contrary to the popular belief that the smoke is just water vapor, the smoke does contain nicotine. The amount of nicotine varies depending on type of e-cigarette, JUUL pods can be equal to over 1 pack of cigarettes.
4. If you are a student who is underage, you cannot use e-cigarettes or vape pens under any circumstance. If you are caught smoking on campus you may violate your student code and you may face punishment such as suspension.
5. For college students who are legally able to use e-cigarettes or vape pens, you need to be aware of the campus policies your school may have against smoking. Most college campuses have some type of “Smoke-Free” policy, these anti-smoke policies may apply to your fruit-flavored smoke just as much as they do cigarette/marijuana smoke.
It is important that you consider these factors before considering usage of e-cigarettes or vapes. Since there is still much to be learned regarding the health side-effects of these products, it is better to avoid them unless you are already someone who suffers from nicotine addiction from cigarettes.
These materials have been prepared by WGW for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.