I think the clearest memory I have from high school is the jagged, angular ends of the flashdrive-like appearance of e-cigarettes. The hazy smoke exhaled from the lips that had closed around the e-cigarettes was a common sight in the cafeteria. And the number of individuals who carried such a device was almost universal. Vaping, or engaging in the use of an e-cigarette, is the unseen epidemic that is ravaging its path through the American youth, forcing millions of unwitting teenagers to become the experiment that will reveal how terribly it truly affects the human body.
And herein lies the fundamental problem with vaping that often goes unnoticed by those who engage in the practice: there are too many unknowns about vaping. The landscape is hazy, unclear, and riddled with misconceptions and imprecise science. Today, e-cigarettes are thought to contain less toxic chemicals compared to traditional cigarettes. However, there have been numerous reported cases of lung injuries and deaths that have been linked to vaping. As of November 2019, the CDC has “confirmed 47 deaths in patients with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury” (1). New emerging data also suggests “links to chronic lung disease and asthma, and associations between dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking with cardiovascular disease” (1). These deaths and data reveal that there has been little study behind the true implications of vaping, and stress that those who engage in using e-cigarettes to be more conscious of their decisions.
Those who are engaged in the practice seem to have a certain element of glamour surrounding vaping; it is a popular product, is seen as “cool,” and is regarded as being unharmful. E-cigarettes, among the youth especially, are more popular than any traditional tobacco product. In 2015, “the U.S. surgeon general reported that e-cigarette use among high school students had increased by 900%, and 40% of young e-cigarette users had never smoked regular tobacco” (1). This increase in e-cigarette use may also be due to vaping’s particular brand of enticement that appeals to the youth. This includes teens believing that vaping is less harmful than smoking, being drawn to the lower cost of e-cigarettes, and the variety of vape cartridges with flavorings such as mango and watermelon. With the epidemic-like nature of vaping, the connotation most of the youth has of it is that it is safe and “cool.” This is a grave mistake. Vaping is not cool. And frankly, it is stupid to engage in vaping because of the lack of science surrounding its effects on the human body. Don’t be an experiment.
To all students who engage in the act of vaping, I am entreating you to forgo the possibility of ending up as just another experiment. Don’t let yourself emerge into that landscape of hazy unknowns as another variable. Be smart and conscious of what you decide to put in your body. Understand that e-cigarettes are potentially dangerous to your health. Keep in mind that some sciences are still in their inception, and the science behind e-cigarettes, and how they truly present a detriment to the human body is such a case. To vape is to voluntarily enter an expanse where statistics are nonexistent, science is in its inception, and a dive into the unknown is guaranteed.