What Can We do to Stop the Vaping Epidemic

Vaping is an epidemic that has taken every school by storm. There is not one school in New Jersey, if not the United States that has gone unaffected. There are so many risks to vaping, and a lot of the risk comes from the unknown.

What we do know is that vape juice (e-juice, flavors, etc.) contain many harmful chemicals including diacetyl, known to cause popcorn lung, and formaldehyde, used for embalming. There is not a single product used for vaping that is FDA approved, including the commonly used Juul pod.

E-cigarettes and vapes were designed as a “safer” or “healthier” product for those who smoke cigarettes to taper off their nicotine use. The fact is, though, there are no approved cessation routes that include vapes or e-cigarettes. Most of the time, people start by using cigarettes, then switch to vaping, but more often than not, these users become dual users, using both cigarettes and vapes. In turn, they end up consuming more nicotine than they otherwise would have.

Aside from the adults that vapes were designed to be used for, marketing has followed suite with Big Tobacco and cigarette advertisements. Instead of marketing to adults, we often see advertisements that are made to entice youth and young adults. Why? Because they become the long term users. Ads display young people, surrounded by people of the opposite sex, blinged out with expensive jewelry, and living in expensive cities. They all look happy, and pleasant. There are also over 15,000 different flavors in e-juice which are directed towards flavors youth would like; cinnamon toast crunch, cookies and cream, crème brulee, etc.

So the question, then, is how do we prevent underage use of this unregulated nicotine trap? A common theme among professionals is to ban all flavors of the e-juice. Youth and young adults are drawn to these flavors and many youth state that they started to vape because there was a flavor that they were interested in trying, and continued to vape because the flavor (and nicotine) had them hooked.  By eliminating flavors, we are eliminating part of the appeal.

Further, there needs to be continued pressure on the FDA to regulate the e-juice. With no ingredients listed on any product, it is unknown what effects e-juice will have on you, or if the products are even safe for consumption. If there is regulation, the safety of the consumer will finally be taken into consideration.