OPINION: Teenage Vaping: A Fad or Lifestyle?

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Vaping. For a while, it seemed as if there was new information, new legislation, or horror stories of young kids in the ER suffering the effects of it coming out every day. Although Covid has been sweeping news stations, and the focus of this health matter has died down, it is something that is still extremely important. The health and safety of young adults is at risk. 

The culture behind vaping is entirely different than that of cigarettes. Young adults tend to see cigarettes as something old people do, and are often wary of it. Vaping is a different animal entirely. With D.A.R.E, or the ‘just say no to drugs’ program students all had to go through, the focus was on hard drugs. Meth, cocaine, heroin. Cigarettes were almost on par with those, or at least that was the way it seemed. Most never once thought of picking up a cigarette, knowing how harmful they were. 

With vaping, there is none of that. No culture behind it, telling teenagers that they were wrong for doing it. The culture behind teenage vaping only worsens the problem. 

Newbies would hit vapes in the school bathrooms, in bedrooms next door to parents, everywhere. Hiding them in the sleeves of their sweatshirts, and blowing out the vapor discreetly. This was the downfall, the start of what we all now recognize is a debilitating addiction. Sucking on nicotine like a pacifier, not being able to go without a hit for ten minutes. This is the reality of vaping now. 

Speaking to someone who works with Imperial Brands, the owner of Blu vapes, I found that he felt the same way I did, that Juuls are leading the market. Steve Lucas, a man who has worked in the vaping industry for years now, said that “Every kid has some kind of vape now, and I see why. There’s something about it that’s better; the way it feels when you inhale it, the flavors, and the ease of charging.” 

There are, of course, the outliers. Kids that don’t and probably never will vape. I asked a college age student who I knew didn’t own a vape why. Tatum Romaniuk, 20, says that while she saw her peers doing it, she just thought it was dumb.

“I just never had the urge to do it," Romaniuk said. "I knew that they’d get addicted and spend a bunch of money, so I just stayed away from it all.”

This seems to be the attitude behind kids that don’t vape; they almost look down upon their peers that do. 

Lastly, I wanted to look at the parents of kids who vape. Did they know, were they worried? The answer was mixed. Lori Lynch, whose daughter is 22, said that she was worried but wasn’t sure how to get her daughter to stop. She’d sent her articles about the dangers of vaping, and the local kids that had been hospitalized for it, but knew that getting someone off nicotine was hard, if not impossible. In the end, her daughter told her that she had quit, but she was still skeptical. This is just another part of teenage vaping culture, it’s so easy to hide. Many people that started vaping in high school have now gone off to college. Their addiction aged with them, as addictions often do, and therefore became less important to hide. At any college party, you will see almost every kid with a vape in their hand, hitting it every five minutes. They never go anywhere without it; it’s attached to them at their hip.

This is part of the reason many believe that vaping is just part of a lifestyle that will continue, and are interested to see how it ages, along with the kid’s lives it has taken hold of. Will the legislation help curb younger generations getting hooked, or is this a serious issue that we need to hold companies and individuals accountable for? 


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