Up In Smoke – America’s Vaping Epidemic

A look into the risks of the newly discovered effects of vaping on America's youth

Lauren Barney, Design Staff/News Staff

I stopped vaping because I was scared. You don’t want to be the next person whose name ends up on the list.

As this summer came to a close, teenagers across America were anticipating their upcoming school year. As some spent their time in shopping isles picking out the perfect back-to-school essentials, other teens spent the beginning of their school year in the emergency room.

 

Aug. 23, 2019 marks the day that the first vape related death is reported in the United States. An unnamed Illinois teenage boy was rushed to the ER after he reported severe breathing difficulties thought to result from his usage of electronic cigarettes. Soon more reports emerged of similar incidents throughout the country in Oregon, Indiana, Minnesota, and then a fifth in California.

 

“Our investigation into the concerning reports of respiratory illness and deaths associated with vaping is a top priority for FDA and our federal, state, local health partners. We’re working tirelessly to gather and analyze information about these incidents,” Ned Sharpless, Chief of the FDA, said in a tweet from Sept. 6, 2019.


As outrage began to pour in, many turned to the White House for possible reform. President Donald Trump expressed his intention to ban all forms of electronic cigarettes both flavored and unflavored forms.


In a statement made by Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, “The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities.” After this declaration, many fled to Twitter to call out the President on his hypocrisy to take such severe actions towards a few cases of vaping related deaths in comparison to the countless gun related deaths. However, the question still remains, is vaping as big of a problem as it seems for teenagers?

 

In a CNN article titled “The Way You Vape Could Make It Even More Dangerous,” it’s stated how the world of electronic cigarettes is still under scrutiny by the FDA for possible health risks. Many of the negative factors published by media outlets are from assumptions made by the negative effects of smoking cigarettes rather than electronic cigarettes themselves. The article states, “Researchers and physicians also need to know what substances are being vaped and also various device designs. The FDA is currently updating the list to include ingredients that might be found in e-cigarettes. Nicotine is already on the list, as well as various metals and other non-nicotine substances.” Dr. Matt Schrager, a health sciences professor at Stetson University, stated “Recommendations are to avoid use of all vaping products, especially those containing THC. Given the lack of regulation of these products, it is impossible to know exactly what they contain. The recent, poorly understood increase in incidence of related, serious – and in some cases fatal – lung disease is alarming.”

 

Until further research is done to make definitive claims to the consequences of vaping, users should remain aware of the potential risks and use caution while using e-cigarette products. When asked about her continued use of e-cigarettes Michele Pulmbo, a Junior at Stetson University, stated “Once I heard what was going on in the news, I stopped vaping because I was scared. You don’t want to be the next person whose name ends up on the list.”