Vaping has begun epidemic nationwide

Ava Riach, Business Manager

A cigarette and an E-Cigarette placed side-by-side, as shown by Vaping360.

N.C.’s attorney general, Josh Stein, announced Aug. 2019 that he and his office will be suing electronic cigarette companies because of teen usage. Vaping and Juuling have recently become an epidemic, putting many teenagers and young adults in the hospital due to related complications. 

“I know people who have started smoking cigarettes because Juuling doesn’t give them enough nicotine to satisfy them,” said an anonymous former Juul user.

Stein will be suing eight companies that sell vaping products, as well as filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Juul, another popular vaping company. The companies that are included in the lawsuit are “Beard Vape,” “Direct eLiquid,” “Electric Lotus,” “Electric Tobacconist,” “Eonsmoke,” “Juice Man,” “Tinted Brew” and “VapeCo”.  

The Food and Drug Administration has warned that teen vaping in the U.S. has reached,’an epidemic proportion and is trying to reduce the sales and marketing of the devices to teens,” according to NPR. 

“[Vaping and juuling] doesn’t need to be advertised, there are too many vaping shops on each corner, and who knows what they are selling,” said Jennifer Hulsey, Health Science Academy Coordinator at Athens Drive.

Hulsey is on an initiative team of about 10 people, consisting of those working in the health or education department. They meet every month at Athens Drive, and they are looking for two student representatives to join them and become involved.

A great number of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, an addictive chemical also found in cigarettes. E-cigarette companies claim that their products were created to help people stop smoking cigarettes, but it has been proven that young people who have never smoked have started vaping. 

The U.S Surgeon General said, “Nicotine exposure during adolescence and young adulthood can cause addiction and harm the developing brain.”

According to NPR, “Last year, 20% of high school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the past month.”

“I think extensive, unbiased testing has to be done on these sort of things before they’re released, not after,” said anonymous.

“There has been an outbreak of a ‘vaping-related lung illness’ stated by a federal health official,” said Buzzfeed News, with  215 possible cases in 25 states. 

In August 2019, an Illinois adult died from a severe lung illness as a result of vaping. Many patients have reported using vaping liquids that contain THC, the ingredient in marijuana that gets you high. Patients that have been admitted because of this state that they have difficulty breathing and chest pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield and Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said, “Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases,” according to Buzzfeed News. The FDA has reported that they have 80 samples of vaping liquids or products related to cases to analyze.

“I think people who vape or Juul know what they’re getting into, but I don’t think they understand fully what they could be doing to themselves,” said Via Mahon, sophomore.

The CDC states that the quickly growing epidemic began with two cases June 28, 2019. Many states are asking for people to stop using all vaping products, with cases reported in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin according to the CDC. Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association has said that the black market is to blame for the illnesses, because they contain THC and other drugs, instead of nicotine. 

“I think we’re going to find, just like we found with smoking cigarettes, it’s just as unhealthy in the long term,” said Sarah Shouse, social studies teacher.

A post by Chance Ammirata recently went viral on Instagram and Twitter. Ammirata was rushed to the hospital because of a collapsed lung, which is thought to be caused by the pods’ toxic chemicals made by Juul. His symptoms included pain in his side and trouble sleeping. When he was brought to the hospital, doctors had to “insert a tube into his lung to keep it inflated,” according to the New York Post. 

The Juul that Ammirata was using left black dots on his lungs, which doctors said would take years or may never heal. He will no longer be very active, or do activities such as cross-country. Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that many popular vape products contained bacterial and fungal toxins.

Many campaigns have been created to advocate for the end of teen smoking, and people are being educated about the effects of vaping because these cases have come to light.