Vaping epidemic harms teens


As smoking cigarettes has become less popular, the use of vape products has drastically increased among high school students. Teenagers who use these products generally tend to think that they are not harmful as they do not produce real smoke but rather vapor. This is concerning, because that assumption is patently false.

Vaping can cause serious mouth and throat irritation, as well as shortness of  breath and other breathing problems. Those are just the side effects caused by the vapor, and the abundance of nicotine in vapes can literally change the way your brain functions. Common side effects of nicotine include anxiety, upset stomach, and irregular heartbeat, but the lesser known long term side effect of nicotine can be even more detrimental.

“(Nicotine) affects your brain chemicals, and changes the way your brain responds to everyday emotions, everyday habits and everyday things that you do and enjoy in life,” Julia Steed, certified tobacco cessation specialist at Vanderbilt University said. “Nicotine changes that experience and you don’t enjoy [day to day fun activities] as much unless nicotine is associated with it.”

Experts like Steed have fielded a particular concern for teenagers using vapes for the first time, rather than adults trying to quit tobacco with vape products.

“I’m very concerned, more so with young people than with adults,” Steed said. “That’s mainly because of the nicotine part that’s associated with it. I mean, I don’t want young people to have lung conditions and this chronic dry cough they can’t get rid of. It’s miserable and lowers their quality of life.”

One parent on the HC SBDM council, the council that facilitates the school’s operation, has taken the lead on addressing the vaping issue in high school. Dr. Kim Thompson Winkler believes there is more to be done to prevent vaping in high schools.

“It’s a very unhealthy habit to develop at such a young age for the developing brain and heart,” Thompson Winkler said. “If we don’t get the word out and stop kids from starting, then it’s going to be much harder to break the habit then it was to work on getting the decrease on smoking traditional cigarettes.”

There is a clear harm involved in vaping and there is little awareness of it. More steps can be taken to curb this epidemic. The schools has begun efforts to stop vaping by posting posters around the school to bring awareness to the problem.