Up in the Clouds
Vaping Proves Dangerous Among Teens
March 22, 2018
As Julia Atwood* holds the piece of metal to her lips, a rare sense of calm washes over her. But the chemicals she inhales only temporarily distract her from her current mental pain – and future physical deterioration.
About one in 10 high school students have used electronic cigarettes. Despite popular belief, vaping causes serious lung disease, gum damage, brain damage, heart diseases and cancer – even without nicotine.
“Smoking and vaping is a display of non-conforming to rules and sets an individual apart from ‘normal’ kids,” Former Mansfield ISD Principal Gerald Kokenes said. “[Vaping] forms the habit of smoking cigarettes, marijuana and could lead to the use of drugs.”
E-cigarettes became available in 2007 to help smokers stop using tobacco. But more people, especially teens, have begun to use these devices just for fun. As the use of cigarettes and neurotics has decreased, vaping among high schoolers has increased by 900 percent between 2011 and 2015, and continues to climb.
“I was honestly just sort of curious as to what [vaping] would be like, so I just tried it,” Kennedy Fields* said.
Exposure to nicotine at a young age has lethal effects, as it increases the risk of cognitive impairment, mental health issues and impulsivity. Those who consume nicotine also become at risk of a potentially fatal addiction to it.
“I see vaping as a safer alternative to smoking or dipping because it has no nicotine,” Garrett Parker* said.
Every e-cigarette has a metal coil in the center that heats up the flavored e-liquid to create vapor. Although not all of these e-liquids contain nicotine, the vapor they produce contains chemicals which become toxic when heated. These chemicals can cause long-lasting damage to the lungs, gums, heart and brain.
Peer pressure has a significant contribution to teen smoking as well. Out of teens who said all or most of their friends smoke, 43% smoke too, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. On the other hand, 99% of kids who said none of their friends smoke didn’t smoke either.
“I’ve never really questioned [my friends who vape],” Atwood said. “I just let them do what they do.”
Others use vape for its original purpose – to quit smoking. However, Dr. Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, found E-cigarettes actually deter the quitting process. Use of e-cigarettes lowers one’s chance of quitting cigarettes by 28%.
“I think your doctor is going to be happier with a healthier option which really outweighs any ‘smart’ I see in the idea [of vaping to quit smoking],” sophomore Isabella Estes said.
Vaping, like many other drugs, has devastating effects on one’s mental, physical and emotional health. A desire to fit in or take the easy way out through E-cigarettes, regardless of the amount of nicotine, can produce years of permanent, lethal health effects.
“I’ve never met anyone who’s said that they are truly happy when they vape,” Estes said. “Usually it’s just a distraction that makes them feel good.”
Those who suffer from mental illness have a 70 percent higher chance of developing a smoking habit than those who don’t, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. Atwood, for instance, used vaping as a way to cope with depression.
“It was something I went to when I was going through depression and all that,” Atwood said. “It helped me be able to calm myself down.”
Vaping does not relieve stress – it makes it worse. Instead of turning to vape or drugs to relieve the stress of life, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends turning to a friend, a relaxation exercise or a hobby for relief. The solution to the stress of life does not need to come in the form of a lethal drug – it can come from good friends, relaxing habits and healthy hobbies.
“[Vaping] didn’t really feel that good,” Joel Wood* said. “My friends made it out to be something good and it just really wasn’t.”
*Names have been changed to respect the privacy of students.