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E-Cigarettes and Vaping More Dangerous Than Most Teens Realize

Hope Denison, Staff Writer

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   As the trend of smoking electronic nicotine devices exponentially increases, especially among teenagers, many users are still unaware of the contents and risks of use.

   According to an article from the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), also called e-cigarettes, personal vaporizers, vape pens, e-cigars, e-hookah, or vaping devices, are products that produce an aerosolized mixture containing flavored liquids and nicotine that is inhaled by the user. ENDS can resemble traditional tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or common gadgets like flashlights, flash drives, or pens” (aap.org).

   One of the more popular devices being used by teenagers is called a JUUL. According to an online market, “JUULpods are cartridge refills for the JUUL Starter Kit. They slot on easily to the JUUL battery with minimum fuss” (electrictobacconist.com).

   According to USA Today, one JUUL pod contains around 200 puffs of smoke, the same as a whole pack of cigarettes (usatoday.com).

   A UC High student who wishes to remain anonymous explained, “It usually takes me two to three days before I have to refill my JUULpod. It usually costs ten to fifteen dollars for my refills.”

   According to a JUUL support site, “Each JUULpod contains 0.7mL with 5 percent nicotine by weight” (juulvapor.com).

   According to the blog of E-cigarette Direct, “Nicotine is the most well-known chemical found in tobacco. It’s an alkaloid, which means it contains nitrogen and is chemically similar to things like caffeine and cocaine. [One serious problem] relates to the endothelium, which is a thin layer of cells that line the inside of your blood vessels. These cells have a big role to play in how your blood vessels function, and if something goes wrong with them it can cause many problems. These include strokes, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), peripheral artery disease (narrow arteries) and high blood pressure” (ecigarettedirect.co.uk).

  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “ENDS contain a liquid solution that is usually flavored. Flavors, which are appealing to children, can include fruit flavors, candy, coffee, piña colada, peppermint, bubble gum, or chocolate” (aap.org).

   According to an E-cigarettes Health Awareness site, “[The flavors] are often filled with toxic nicotine, and teenagers are even more susceptible to its highly addictive properties. Youth and young adults are uniquely at risk for the effects of nicotine because their minds are not like adults’. Not until one turns 25, on average, does their brain stop developing. Every time young people make memories or learn a new skill, their brain quickly takes note. Because addiction is a form of learning, adolescents can then become addicted more easily. They can suffer from the long-term neurological effects that nicotine addiction brings, in addition to teeing up their susceptible brains for addiction to other drugs like cocaine” (stillblowingsmoke.org).

   UC High Counselor Kelsey Bradshaw said, “I think the smoking problem at school has increased this year. It seems to be more readily available, so more kids are getting caught than we’ve had in previous years.”

   The Academy of Pediatrics stated, “In 2016, 11 percent of high schoolers and 4 percent of middle schoolers reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days” (aap.org).

   According to the family magazine Reader’s Digest’s website, “A Truth Initiative web panel survey of 1,018 15-to 24-year-olds in the U.S. revealed that 37 percent of teens were uncertain that they were inhaling nicotine, although it clearly states on the JUUL website that each pod is equal to 200 cigarette puffs.”

   According to the American Lung Association, “When [e-cigarette vapor is] inhaled, diacetyl causes bronchiolitis obliterans — more commonly referred to as ‘popcorn lung’ — a scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs resulting in the thickening and narrowing of the airways. While the name ‘popcorn lung’ may not sound like a threat, it’s a serious lung disease that causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, similar to the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)” (lung.org).

    Vice Principal Michael Paredes said, ”Educating teachers on what is going on not only at our school, but at many other schools, is important to combat the problem. We are showing teachers the different types of devices and what they look like. We are also encouraging them to do their own research.” He added, “We are also trying our best to educate our parents. Staying ahead of the problem is very difficult.”

    A UC High student who wishes to remain anonymous stated, “I started JUULing because I heard about it on social media. When I JUUL, I get domed, which feels like a headrush and makes me dizzy.” Another student agreed, saying, “I get nic sic (nicotine poisoning) when I smoke too much.  My stomach starts to hurt and I start to throw up. It has already happened to me a lot.”

   According to the same E-cigarette Health Awareness site, the myth that switching from traditional cigarettes to vaping is better for you is completely false. JUULing, vaping, and the use of other ENDS affects a user’s respiratory system, mouth/throat, circulatory system, nervous system, urinary system, sensory system, digestive system, immune system, muscles and bones, and skin. Some effects, according to actual users, include shortness of breath, sore throat, irregular heartbeats, panic attacks, blood and “foam” in urine, distorted vision, heartburn, vomiting, increase in cold and flu sensitivity, rashes, and countless more (stillblowingsmoke.org).

   A UC High student who wishes to remain anonymous explained, “Getting vape products is so easy, it’s crazy. I usually buy from kids at our school or a smoke shop, because they don’t ask my age.” The student added, “I walk into a smoke shop and they sell to me without even asking my age. I’ve even bought a bong at the smoke shop.”

   According to another UC High student who wishes to remain anonymous, “I think JUULing is the most common thing kids are doing at our school in terms of smoking because you can’t smell it — it just has a slight fruity smell. Teachers don’t even know what they are because they look like flash drives.”

   The student added, “The reason I JUUL instead of smoking marijuana is because my parents drug test me and nicotine hasn’t shown up on the test.”

   Another UC High student humorously stated, “I don’t think our school is going to be able to get rid of kids JUULing. Most teachers can’t tell the difference between a JUUL and a flash drive. You can also just blow the smoke into your shirt or backpack when the teacher isn’t looking.”

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E-Cigarettes and Vaping More Dangerous Than Most Teens Realize