Vaping epidemic harming teens

Diagram labeling the parts of a common, everyday vape device.

Just as the trend in smoking has taken a steep decline, the vaping epidemic has taken an opposite path, especially among teens and young adults. A recent study finds that Tennessee is #4 in the country for e-cigarette smoking.

The ‘harmless water vapor’ sold by marketers has appeared to be not so harmless as of late. In fact, eleven percent of high school seniors, eight percent of 10th-graders, and 3.5% of eighth-graders reported vaping with nicotine in a one month period, according to a national survey released from the University of Michigan late last year.

CDC statistics show that 1.5% of high school teens had tried e-cigs in 2011, compared with 16% in 2015. The secret ingredient that has teens all across the nation lies is nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive drug that stimulates the heart. It is quite easy to get hooked onto nicotine because when it enters your body, a chemical called dopamine is released. Dopamine is sort of like a ‘feel good chemical’ and is released when the body experiences any type of pleasure. But the more nicotine that the brain experiences, the more it needs to release a satisfying amount of dopamine, which can cause one to become addicted before they even realize it.

According to tobacco researcher and professor of community health sciences at Boston University Dr. Michael Siegel: “It can worsen heart disease for those who already have it.

“Nicotine also has effects on reproductive health, and exposure to nicotine during pregnancy, regardless of its delivery method, can harm the developing fetus and lead to babies born with low birth weights.

“Nicotine is poisonous in its concentrated, e-liquid form, and there have been an increasing number of cases of infants and young children accidentally ingesting it.”

Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco said: “Nicotine can be toxic to a young person’s still-developing brain and body system.”

He also states that kids who use e-cigarettes have more respiratory problems and take more days off from school.

The term ‘vaping’ refers to any action in which one inhales vapor created from a liquid heated up inside a device. There are all sorts of vape and e-cigarette devices, such as the ever so popular Juul.

The Juul is popular among youth because of its features called ‘pods’ or a vape liquid made from nicotine salts found in loose-leaf tobacco instead of the traditional free-base nicotine found in most e-cigarette liquid. These are popular as they provide a higher burst of nicotine, which means more dopamine. Pods are also popular since they come in an astounding variety of flavors such as mango, mint, and even cucumber.

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