Data released by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 3.6 million U.S. youths use electronic cigarettes. And, among current users, more than eight in 10 reported using flavored e-cigarettes.
Smoking and vaping have been a problem among middle school students and high school students for years.
This growing trend of teenagers smoking electronic cigarettes can affect our children’s futures because of the many physical and mental health risks of smoking and vaping.
“In 2020, approximately one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students currently used e-cigarettes,” according to the CDC.
The CDC found that 22.5% of high school e-cigarette users and 9.4% of middle school users reported daily use.
Vaping and smoking have many health risks that most teens say they will worry about later.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, e-cigarette use causes an increased risk of heart disease, chronic lung disease and cancer. Also, a recent CDC study found that 99% of the e-cigarettes sold in assessed venues in the United States contained nicotine. Nicotine can harm adolescent brain cells, which continue developing until age 25.
While harming developing brains, vaping also can cause one’s personality to change. A recent paper published in the Journal of Research in Personality reports that, compared to people who do not smoke, cigarette smokers were more likely to report negative changes in certain aspects of their personalities. It also mentions that teenagers who smoke are more likely to report becoming introverts, less open, and less agreeable.
These results hurt teens the most. Addiction to smoking may change their personalities, causing them to become antisocial and decline help.
As much as teenagers want to believe that vaping is safe, that is not true at all. Many teens think vaping is not that harmful and that e-cigarettes just contain water vapor, but that is false. As Public Health Insider reports, “Although e-cigarettes generally emit fewer toxins than combustible tobacco products, we know, according to a recent report from the U.S Surgeon General, e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless water vapor.”
In short, there is much more in vapes than what the vaping advertisements say.
It is still possible to end or slow the e-cigarette trend, especially if teens have no access to the devices. The age to be able to purchase tobacco and nicotine products has been increased to 21 in Pennsylvania, and there must be increased oversight to make sure stores adhere to the law. Also, we must push for truth in advertising to end the misconception that vaping is safe.
Avery Tran is in grade 11 at Conestoga Valley High School.