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OPINION: The harmful effects of an increasing epidemic

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The difference between cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Opinion writer Zach Richards argues that vaping is a popular trend among today’s youth, but schools are not educating students on the associated health issues.

Vaping is on the rise among high school and even middle school students, and schools should make an effort to inform their students about the impending dangers.

Students have become aware of vaping’s increase in popularity. In an interview with high school freshmen Lucas Lindemann and Jordan Booker of greater Cincinnati, they claimed that as many as 30-40% of people in their grade smoke JUULs. On a national level, the National Institute of Drug Abuse says that 16.2% of high school seniors smoke e-cigarettes. While the numbers may not actually be in the 30th to 40th percentile, the perception among high schoolers still remains: Everyone’s doing it.

In a way, this is a new version of an old problem. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 86.9% of everyone who has smoked daily at any point in their lives smoked their first cigarette before they turned 18 years old. The NCBI also says that, at its peak in 1997, almost 40% of all high school students smoked cigarettes.

The number of teens smoking declined for the next two decades afterward, and now only 11.4% of high school seniors smoke cigarettes, a sharp drop from past statistics.

Vaping was initially marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking, but almost from the onset, it seems obvious that inhaling any type of smoke on a regular basis would be unhealthy. This nefarious tactic by the vaping industry obscured and obfuscated the fact that vapes and e-cigarettes contain nicotine.

Nicotine is not necessarily as harmful as the other chemicals but still gets high schoolers addicted to vapes and the chemicals in them. It also greatly benefits the companies to include nicotine in their products, as it creates a loyal base of customers spending money to keep fueling their addictions.

Sure enough, more and more studies are discovering the adverse health effects of vaping. Federal officials even allege that there have been hundreds of cases of pulmonary disease and even some deaths related to vaping.

Yale University health researchers have also found that vaping will increase the likelihood that teenagers will go on to smoke cigarettes, although there is an argument to be made that people who already have an inclination to vape will be more likely to have the propensity to move on to cigarettes.

Many credit the decline of cigarette usage among teenagers to massive public awareness campaigns. 

As more studies come out showing the adverse health effects of vaping, there will probably be more public awareness campaigns throughout the next decade or so, and we’ll eventually see a decline in the number of people vaping.

Already schools are taking the lead in telling their students about the dangers of vaping. These schools run the risk of seeming out of touch and making vaping seem cool to their students, possibly causing the whole thing to backfire. 

Ultimately, it’s important that schools inform their students about the health effects of vaping, but that they do so in a way that will actually get a relatable message through to the affected kids.

Please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political. 

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