Vaping's Systematic Hold On The Younger Generation Is An Epidemic

Updated: May 3, 2020

This article was originally published as an editorial in The Panther Newspaper, The Student Voice of Clark Atlanta University that provides news to a consortium of 8,000 African-American scholars. The newspaper is not yet digital. For verification of publishing contact: James McJunkins

Nicotine products have fueled health epidemics in America for decades. Cigarette smoking alone is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths according to the Atlanta based Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Up until 2017, teens made up less than 5%  of smokers, being one of the first generations to nearly avoid the temptation at hand. 

Yet, there are presently 450 cases of people as young as 17 years old developing serious lung conditions and cancer due to the use of modern nicotine products, according to The New York Times.

Both Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Generation Z (born 1997-2015)  alike grew up on the rise of anti-tobacco campaigns. One of the biggest contenders of these campaigns is the organization “Truth” which aims “to arm everyone-smokers and non-smokers-with the tools to make change.”

Truth works directly in demolishing big tobacco companies “lies and manipulation” with provocative ad campaigns and commercials featuring testimonies from smokers who have been impacted the most. 

Many of these ads explore the raw truth of the damage smoking can cause from head to toe, exposing everything from smoker’s baldness, missing teeth/limbs, to the holes in their bodies all brought on by their addiction.

What worked to nearly end the nicotine addiction epidemic in America failed with the creation of e-cigarettes, juuls, and THC (marijuana stimulant) pens. Compact, sleek, high-tech pocket sized devices that make smoking odorless and convenient. 

From 2017 to 2018 alone “vaping” (vaporous smoking) rose 80 percent, primarily in middle to high schoolers. 

The e-pens hold intensely concentrated tobacco offering a higher release of nicotine that ultimately increases the rate of dependency. This dependency directly correlates with the increase in the development of lung conditions and cancer within youth under the age of 21.

While many states have increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, e-cigarettes are excluded from the product list as they deliver nicotine with no connection to tobacco leaf. Thus, creating a legal loophole, encouraging the access of device to minors. 

With the growing amount of vaping based, lung conditions, researchers everywhere are diving into what component within the device is directly affecting the health of its users. The Federal Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention alike are urging the public to steer away from the use of  e-cigarettes, juuls, and THC pens as they research the effects of its components. 

Despite this, the death count rises with six deceased this year alone, in correspondence with Rolling Stone. Along the same path, marketing has risen for the products, reaching radio stations, and social media “influencers” that encourage the use of the product despite FDA and CDC warnings. 

As of September 11th, 2019 the Trump Administration is working toward a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Companies like juul will from now on being monitored in their advertisement methods, if their marketing is catered toward children further enforcement will be called on. 

The decision is thus left on the public to chose to work alongside of government regulations against big tobacco company’s systematic attack on the youth of America.

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