With high levels of vaping among young adults and incidences of vaping-related illness continuing to increase, many are calling vaping an “epidemic.” This is encapsulated in recent news headlines, including The New York Times: “The prevalence of e-cigarette use among minors has doubled from 2017 through this year, despite national campaigns warning of dangers” and Vice News: “People Are Dying from Vaping in the U.S. and Not the U.K.”
New York state responded to the outbreak with a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, but this effort was blocked because of a lawsuit from vaping groups, which stated that the proposed ban “would affect retailers and adults who use [e-cigarettes] to stop smoking tobacco.”
E-cigarettes are a $2.5 billion business in the U.S. A recent article published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle revealed that about 78 percent of New Yorkers believe that e-cigarettes are a major public health issue, according to the Siena College Research Institute.
Juul, a modern, sleek, USB drive-like electronic device that is used for vaping, appeals to teens and young adults. The Juul pen can be charged and vaporizes flavored pods, which are disposable. Each pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes does.
According to the company website, its mission is to “improve the lives of the world’s 1 billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes.” But the marketing techniques used by Juul have targeted a younger audience, which has led to public backlash against the company and contributed to the vaping epidemic throughout the country.
The Colleges ban smoking in dormitories, but students seem to be vaping everywhere when they get a chance — in classrooms, in bathrooms, and even in their cars. The Herald asked students around campus what motivates them to vape. One student said, “College is stressful. And also so many kids do here that it’s a way to socialize.”
Another student noted that “the culture from high school came along to college . . . it’s the generation we live in now.” This generation experiences an increased amount of stress along with the accessibility of e-cigarettes, including their easy storage.
Some students who vape expressed their belief that it is “less harmful” than smoking cigarettes, following how the product is advertised. Vaping allows users to experience short-term pleasure and energy, but afterward withdrawal symptoms set in, prompting users to continue vaping in order to get more nicotine.
Sooner or later, nicotine products become addictive and the person becomes trapped. Nicotine exposure in adolescents and young adults can affect their brain development until the age of 25. Many e-cigarettes contain other harmful ingredients, such as “ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs,” according to the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General. Recently, a 17-year-old New Yorker died to due to vaping-related lung illness. The teenager is among the 23 people to die nationwide from this illness.
College may be a stressful environment — socially, academically, and mentally—and it is not easy. There are ways for people to cope with stress in a healthier way than vaping or smoking. Do things that make you happy and take your mind off work. Science shows that exercise reduces many health risks and lowers stress levels and, importantly, it provides relaxation to the mind. Having healthy and meaningful conversations can produce happiness and joy. There are yoga sessions and mindfulness clubs around campus to promote mental health.
If you are feeling lonely, seek help! Talk to your adviser, resident assistant, and even your professors—they are there to help you. The Hubbs Health Center provides comprehensive medical services access for The Colleges, and the Counseling Center has dedicated professionals who are there to talk to you and guide you. If you see a friend in need help, reach out to them, and a little difference could make their life better.