Can I hit that: the vaping plague

Vaping is a plague. It has successfully morphed itself into being a socially acceptable practice, even heightening one’s popularity levels if done in public. Being easily accessible and addictive, this vile practice has taken schools by storm. Young people don’t seem to understand the dangers of vaping, and consider it to be just a “fun” activity to engage in with each other. What we don’t know is how it is setting us down a path that can lead to breathing tubes and death. 

In years past, the cloud of vape smoke has been closing in on teens, but research on the effects haven’t been conclusive. This was the status quo until 2019, when over 1,600 cases of lung injury were reported to the CDC. The only commonality between these cases are the use of e-cigarettes. Thirty-four deaths have occurred in that span, with plenty more on the horizon. In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker issued a 4-month ban on all vaping products, in hopes of reducing risk for teens who succumb to this epidemic.

At ARHS, it seems like a normality to JUUL in the bathroom with your friends. You may think it is harmless, just some high school fun that can be chalked up to boredom. Maybe you sell pods (vaping cartridges), as a means of feeding your addiction. Until one day, you wake up in the hospital, tubes sticking out of your chest and neck, squeaking and beeping.

Social media has had a huge impact on this phenomena, creating a platform for users to buy and sell vaping products. There are even accounts on Instagram that promote the habit, showing off expensive vapes and e-cigarettes. In a world that is dominated by the internet, vaping has successfully entered itself into the mainstream.

Vaping isn’t just about getting a buzz to ease stress anymore, although that’s what an addict would say. It represents a backlash on rules, and on societal expectations. It’s hard to predict why someone would fall privy to this addiction, but it’s not difficult to explain why they stay on it. When it’s all said and done, teens just don’t listen to what they are told about their health. There are so many red flags about vaping products, including extensive studies that show imminent health problems, but it still seems impossible to coax young people to wean themselves off the product. Many may need doctor assistance to quit. But with nicotine cessation aids like nicotine gum and patches usually approved only for those age 17 or older, the road to kicking the habit may be long for younger teens. Teens will need to be upfront about their addiction and desire to quit, and the medical community will need to reach out to teens to help them do so.

At ARHS, the epidemic causes problems even for those who do not vape. If a guy wants to go to the bathroom, he has to walk, what seems like miles, to the bathroom that hasn’t been locked. The urinals and sinks have become a hangout spot, where fiends can exchange their vaping products and get high during school. The truly hardcore addicts will head to the stalls to get even more blasted, in an attempt to quench their thirst for a buzz. After all these people leave the bathroom, a hall monitor comes in and sees the smoke, and decides to shut the bathroom. This happens in almost every boys’ bathroom, only stopping when there are no bathrooms left. For all those who don’t partake in this nasty habit, it creates a total inconvenience to do something so basic as to go to the bathroom.  

If vaping is to be stopped, vapers have to be made aware of the damage they are doing to their system. The injuries and deaths associated with it have only just started to appear; this is the trojan horse. As people continue to vape, they will expose themselves to harmful chemicals for years to come. The only thing that will happen as a result will be thousands of deaths, maybe coupled with some remorse for “being young and stupid.”

I just hope that you reading this, with a JUUL in your pocket, will maybe take a step back and reflect. Because I don’t want want what seems like a little harmless fun for you now to lead to imminent lung cancer, fertility problems, respiratory problems, or death. Our futures are too bright for that.