E-cigarettes —or “vaping” — have seen an alarming rise over the past five years on college campuses. The use of vapes is a severe public health issue and poses a massive threat to college students in Tallahassee.
Although the health risks of vaping are very severe, that doesn’t stop many college students from chasing the buzz.
Vapes are designed to be discrete and look like everyday items. The main designs look like USB flash drives, pens and sometimes regular cigarettes.
Vapes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug that can hinder brain development and cause irreversible damage. According to www.cdc.gov, “Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain. The brain keeps developing until about age 25.”
Despite the warning labels and harmful effects on the body, many college students still decide to vape and don’t want to stop.
Tayah Fuller, a first-year criminal justice student at Tallahassee Community College, said that although she’s noticed changes in her health from vaping, she doesn’t intend to stop any time soon.
“I go through about one or two devices a month which I will hit five to ten times an hour,” Fuller said. “Because I do it so often, I have experienced shortness of breath over time.”
Often, students turn to vape to cope with the stress and anxiety of college.
“I can get really anxious, especially around finals time and vaping helps calm me down and gets me through the day,” Fuller said.
According to www.cdc.gov “Youth may turn to vaping to try to deal with stress or anxiety, creating a cycle of nicotine dependence.” But nicotine addiction can be a source of stress.
Although there is a rise in students using vaping and e-cigarettes, some recognize the harmful effects and choose not to engage in the activity.
Markiel Ross, a fourth-year business administration student at Florida A&M, said he doesn’t see the difference between vape pens and regular cigarettes.
“Personally, I feel that vaping is just like smoking cigarettes. There is no real difference in my eyes, and the dangers are the same,” Ross said.
Students on FAMU’s campus have noticed an increase in vape use within the younger class of first- and second-year students and believe that it is because of the change in a generation.
“The generations have just changed, like how our generation has switched from beer to seltzers and now from cigarettes to vapes. Everything is just new versions of the same stuff,” Ross said.