In 2018, teens are more likely to use electronic cigarettes,or e-cigarettes, than traditional cigarettes. Because of the discreteness of pocket-sized e-cigarettes, more students from high schools and even students from middle schools have started vaping.
According to NBC News, e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product amongst youth since 2014, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teens are twice as likely to use e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes. Since the development of vaping tools such as Juuls, Suorins, vape pens, etc., students have started to ditch regular cigarettes for electronic ones. Haewon Lim, a sophomore at Beverly Hills High School said that she had “never seen anyone use regular cigarettes at school, but [she] had seen many people use e-cigarettes almost everyday.”
As a student myself at Beverly Hills High School, I have witnessed many accounts of e-cigarette usage around campus during school hours. When I enter a bathroom, I can sometimes see the smoke and smell the flavoring of the devices. Once, I’ve even seen a student secretly vaping in class.
So why is vaping so significant in high schools today? One of the major factors of the vaping problem is that e-cigarettes are moderately accessible to teens. Many adults are willing to sell to students as a significant number of e-cigarette users are teenagers. In addition, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, seven in ten teens have been exposed to advertising from e-cigarette companies. Many tobacco companies take advantage of teen usage of e-cigarettes to gain profit.
One of the biggest dangers of vaping is that health regulations around e-cigarettes are not firmly established yet. Manufacturers are not required to report what is in e-cigarettes, so the people using the devices are unaware of what they are smoking. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 66% of teens think their e-cigarettes contain just flavoring, 13.7% do not know, and only 13.2% think there is nicotine. In reality, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, many contain cancer causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead. This can lead to a variety of complications such as lung disease, cancer, etc.
Many teens take notice of the dangers of vaping, but a large number of teens do not see it as a problem. An anonymous freshman in Beverly Hills High School said, “I don’t see why it’s a problem. We’re just doing our own thing and if other people wanna hate, that’s their problem. I’m not forcing anyone to smoke, so I don’t think it’s right for anyone to force me to quit.”
Vaping in the United States has become a significant issue especially among teens which may be extremely dangerous, thus it is vital for youth to be more educated on the effects of e-cigarettes.
Christina Im, Grade 10
Beverly Hills High School