With an approximate six deaths and 450 injuries, according to Newsweek, it seems another epidemic has struck our nation.
This epidemic has even struck our campus with the hospitalization of one of our students due to vaping.
Vaping, which is defined as “the action or practice of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device,” has become widespread in the United States, especially among middle and high schoolers.
Vaping was originally – continues to be – marketed as a way for adult smokers to quit. Recently more and more teens have started using vaping products despite their marketing.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, 3.62 million high school and middle students used e-cigarettes.
This demographic is still undergoing crucial brain development, and with products such as JUUL containing the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes, this could leave them hooked.
Vaping also comes with the risk of injury and illness. According to NBC News, vapes have malfunctioned, causing burns to users.
Also, according to the CDC, adults and children have been poisoned from swallowing, breathing, or absorbing vape liquid via their skin or eyes.
While many companies state they make their advertising geared toward adults, flavors, which include varieties such as bubblegum, cotton candy, and watermelon, have created doubts.
A 2017 study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that the use of flavored vape products was highest in youth at 80% of those aged 12-17 years. The flavor was also found to be the primary reason for use, especially among youth.
The concern with the rise in youth vaping is the long-term health effects that have come to fruition. With the sudden rise in vaping, especially among youth, the question of the next step has arisen.
In early September, President Trump proposed a ban on all non-tobacco flavored vaping products to combat the epidemic.
Many state lawmakers such as those in Utah, New York, and California have also begun discussing bans of flavored products, or even all vape products, in their respective states.
These bans aim to get rid of flavorings to stop the attraction of these products to teens.
Another concern with flavored vape liquids is a chemical known as diacetyl or AP. This liquid was once used in food products to increase their buttery flavor. It was later banned for causing a condition known as “Popcorn Lung.”
Due to the need for diacetyl to be inhaled to cause this condition, it is wondered if vaping liquids containing the chemical can do the same.
While it is not entirely clear if a certain type of liquid or device is to blame for the sudden illnesses, the FDA has found danger in THC vaping liquids.
Some of the liquids those that are currently sick were using included THC and a chemical called vitamin E acetate.
The concerns with these products lie in the addictive nature of THC and the danger of inhaling vitamin E acetate.
The New York Health Department found vitamin E acetate in almost all products sampled from 34 patients who used at least one cannabis vape product before becoming ill.
In 2016, JAMA Pediatrics found that about 1 in 11 United States students between 6th and 12th grade used cannabis products in vapes. This shines a light into a possible next step our President and nation can take.
We should consider better regulating or even banning these products due to their addictive nature and their chemical contents.
The President has made the right decision in calling for a ban for flavored vape products. These products are not only attracting our nation’s youth to engage in dangerous actions, but they also contain chemicals that can cause severe damage to users of any age.
This ban, however, is not the only step we should take in fighting the vaping epidemic.
We should begin considering actions against THC vape products due to their possible correlation with the sudden illnesses that have emerged.
Neither the ban nor the next step, which is unknown as of now, will be a total fix.
However, they should be implemented in order to decrease the number of teens who vape and the amount of illness that these products are being shown to cause.
Emme is a sophomore Political science major and is the Secretary of the BU Republicans.