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The generation that kept smoking

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Smoking makes its comeback in Gen Z in the form of vaping

[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]his is the generation to end smoking: or so the saying goes. From youth, members of Generation Z have been taught the dangers of smoking; the practice of “saying no” to cigarettes was instilled from as early as elementary school. However, in true modern-age fashion, a technological development has been made to smoking: the rise of vaping. At this point, it’s no surprise to hear that vaping is ingrained in the culture of Gen Z. This trend started off as an appeal of eccentric flavors offered in the form of “vape juice” that teens could smoke, supposedly without the risk of addiction. Fast forward a couple years later, though, and vaping is proving to have plenty of health risks, including the presence of nicotine — a highly addictive substance found in certain flavors of vape. As a result, teens as young as 13 are developing addictions to vaping.

  “I have always thought smoking looked cool. Even though addiction plagued some of my family and it nearly took my grandma from me, I couldn’t shake that I was drawn to it,” said an unnamed PRHS vaper, one of the many teens who has turned to the habit.

  Vaping companies, such as Juul, have run into legal trouble as a result of this trend. Despite vaping materials only being legally available to those age 18 and up, a simple search on Ebay brings up plenty of products available to anyone 13 and up. As well as being available to a younger audience, these companies have come under fire for seemingly advertising to a younger crowd, perhaps influencing the appeal of vaping in the eyes of teens. Because of this, the “vaping epidemic” has spread wildly.

  With flavors such as cotton candy, cherry, and crème brûlée, people have observed that companies may be intentionally marketing their product to a younger crowd — and it’s working. Like with early smoking companies, the appeal of vape products is promoting a mass of young people to turn to an unhealthy habit.

 

Student Resources Officer Joe Leonard opposes vaping from a health standpoint. By sharing vape pens, disease can easily be spread.

 Juul is now facing multiple lawsuits as a result of their marketing tactic. In April of 2018, Bradley Colgate of La Jolla and Kaytlin McKnight of Arroyo Grande filed a lawsuit against the company on account of addiction to the product, according to an article by Wired. Despite turning to vaping to curb a nicotine addiction from cigarettes, Colgate claims he is now facing an increase in consumption of nicotine.  

  E-cigarettes, such as Juuls, are easy to conceal, mimicking the appearance of a USB flash drive. An innocent appearance makes it easier for teens to hide the truth of the habit from teachers, parents, adults, and themselves. Though they may not look as harmful as the so-stigmatized orange and white cigarette, they’re still e-cigarettes that threaten certain health risks.

  “When people vape together they are putting their mouths on the same item, inhaling vapor to the bottom of their lungs. I suspect there are very few ways to spread illness better,” said Student Resources Officer Joe Leonard, who believes that the popularity of vaping among teens may spawn from boredom.

  For every one Juul pod, there contains about the same amount of nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. Because vaping has been so popularized, the negative stigma of cigarettes far outweighs that of vaping, despite similar health hazards. Additionally, there exists a habit among teens of sharing vapes with others, which could spread illness.

  “Be very careful about putting anything foreign in your body. Period. Do not share a vape with someone else.  Every year numerous inmates in county jails get TB from sharing cigarettes. It can probably be spread just as easily if not easier by sharing vapes. Protect yourself and your family from illness,” warned Leonard.

  If Gen Z were to truly end smoking, that must include through the abolishment of smoking e-cigarettes. The absence of a white and orange paper exterior does not diminish the presence of nicotine and the risk of long-term health detriments. Gen Z has proven a resistance to cigarettes, but there still remains the duty to resist the temptation of vaping. Only time will tell if this generation will be the one to end smoking.

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