The e-cigarette epidemic

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What started off as a supposed safer alternative to cigarettes is now becoming a worldwide epidemic with many underage teens becoming very addicted. E-cigarettes are spreading faster than most expected, with the FDA stating they failed to predict the current addiction among the youths. In an info graphic posted by The National Institute On Drug Abuse, asking teens what they think is in their E-cigarette, stats show 66.0 percent say flavoring, 13.7 percent don’t know, 13.2 percent say nicotine, 5.8 percent say marijuana, and 1.3 percent say other. This shows many teens don’t even know the effects of E-cigarettes and what they’re made of, due to the fact that they’re generally safer because they’re supposed to contain less nicotine and haven’t been proven to cause cancer. This is mostly because E-cigarettes haven’t been out long enough to show they cause cancer. Nowadays, teens see smoking different types of E-cigarettes as something cool or something that makes them look cool.

E-cigarettes have three main parts: a rechargeable battery, a vaporization chamber/atomizer, and a liquid cartridge, which usually contains nicotine, chemical flavoring, and other compounds. Both E-cigarettes and actual cigarettes contain nicotine which is what causes teens to be addicted to them. Depending on how much you take, nicotine can have different effects. According to Medicine Net, “ Low doses may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and eye irritation. High doses of nicotine may cause tachycardia, high blood pressure, seizures, coma, and death.” Other chemicals that can be found are ethylene glycol and nitrosamine, which are cancer-causing substances. According to The Real Cost, inhaling flavored chemicals can be harmful to your lungs. In addition to this, metal particles such as nickel, tin, and aluminum can be found in vapes.

The students and staff of MCHS have their own viewpoint of the situation. Freshman Jaylani Juarez and senior Alexis Carlos both oppose using E-cigarettes because they believe it’s unhealthy for your body and can become very addicting. With this epidemic growing rapidly, it’s not a surprise to find yourself surrounded with people who smoke. Carlos stated, “It’s very shocking. You wouldn’t expect those who look really smart to be smoking.” It’s even harder now to avoid using E-cigarettes when it’s so easy to gain access to one. Carlos commented, “Honestly it’s very easy. It’s not hard at all, and I feel like everything happens online now, so it’s not very person to person.” It’s so easy to buy these items now, just because everyone on social media posts about it, especially on Snapchat. But we as the general public can help stop this epidemic from growing. Juarez suggested, “I think that people who use E-cigarettes aren’t aware of the harm in the chemicals. They should just know how they’re damaging themselves and other people should spread the word and just talk about it more.”

Biology teacher Ms. Groff agrees that this epidemic should be stopped, saying, “Smoking and E-cigarettes are very poor for the health and well-being of people, and tobacco companies try to get younger people because they’ll have a higher chance of being customers for life. Under the age of 19, the brain becomes addicted much quicker. They’re very clever on how they are advertising to the youth with different flavors and names.” Ms. Groff also believes that regular cigarettes and E-cigarettes aren’t different at all and are the same, commenting, “I think they’re pretty much the same, like, both are very addicting and that anytime you’re putting something into your lungs like that, you have to be careful. [So] We already live in a polluted area, and we have to deal with smog, that’s damaging to our lungs. So, why do you directly want to put something in there that’s going to be harmful?” Ms. Groff advices that we can educate the youth by showing graphic images of what using E-cigarettes do to our lungs and the long term effects upon the body, and all the other things it sets people up for. She also believes teens should have much more adult role models that they could look up to and admire. As a community, we have to inform more people of the dangers of smoking. By doing so, we have a much higher chance of stopping this epidemic.