From: Kent, Washington
School: Federal Way High School
Youth Vaping Crisis
Right now young adults and teenagers all across America are facing a public health epidemic. It is known as vaping. Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapor, which is produced by vape products (Juul, E-Cigarettes, etc.). People use these products as an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. In 2018, the US Surgeon General declared vaping youth vaping as an epidemic in our country. I completely agree that it is a huge problem for my age group in our communities. At my high school I always see people vaping and using e-cigarettes in bathrooms. It is a problem because they don’t see it as a risk to their own health. These teens only see it as a way to be popular or to look cool in front of other students. It has been researched that on average, seven out of ten teenagers see an advertisement for vaping every day. This is a problem because more people become exposed to this addiction. Additionally, this issue isn’t slowing down. In 2017, it was researched that around 27.8% of high school seniors in America vaped. That percentage increased to 37.3% in the span of one year. This shows that this youth vaping is truly a crisis and must be stopped in order to protect our fellow friends/family from becoming addicted as well.
Vaping contains nicotine which is an addictive substance. What young adults don’t know is that nicotine affects a developing brain (memory and attention) more than it affects a fully grown adult. This addictive substance can cause forms of lung cancer which is very harmful to a person’s well being. Vaping isn’t just bad for people’s health, it is also harmful to the environment. For example, vapes and e-cigarettes are harder than traditional cigarettes to dispose of. They require being taken apart at an actual vape store rather than just being thrown away. Teens aren’t educated on how to dispose of them properly. When they try to throw the device away or litter, it leaks battery acid and metals into the environment. This increases pollution in the air which is harmful for everyone, not just the user of the device.
Some solutions to this issue include raising the age that someone can purchase a vape device, and creating stricter vape laws. The current age in most US states to purchase vape products is 18 years old. This is a problem because most 18 year olds are either seniors in high school or have just graduated. This means that a lot of high schoolers can access vape products because they can just ask their 18 year old friend to buy a device for them. If we increase the purchasing age to 21, this will decrease the number of high school users because they aren’t around 21 years olds as much as they are around 18 year olds. The other solution I mentioned was stricter laws. Most of the products that teens buy are flavored vapes. This is because large vape companies advertise these the most knowing that they will draw in the young consumers. Another problem with these flavored vapes is that their information is often misleading so teens don’t really know exactly what they’re purchasing. An example of this is the popular candy, Sour Patch Kids. There is a vape product called, “Candy King Batch,” which looks almost identical to the candy Sour Patch Kids. This misleads a lot of teens into purchasing it, not knowing that it is actually a vape product that contains nicotine. Another problem with large vape companies is that they target lower income communities (due to being less educated on the harms of vaping). If we place stricter regulations on where vape products can actually be sold, then the lower income communities won’t be able to obtain as many vape products. This would help reduce the amount of teens that use vape products. Additionally, this would help the environmental impact of vapes because a decrease in irresponsible people vaping, would increase the amount of vapes actually being disposed properly (reduce the pollution from vapes).