J-14 Investigates: The Vaping Trend
All about the scary habit that experts say is out of control.
You may think that smoking an ecigarette is no big deal. After all, thanks to advertisements with cartoon characters selling the so-called “candy flavors” and even “health benefits” of smoking them, it’s no wonder that many teens think e-cigarettes are safe. “My friends have vaped before,” one 14-year-old girl from New Jersey (who wished to remain anonymous) tells J-14. “They told me it was actually good for them.” The truth is, vaping is anything but healthy. “Manufacturers want you to think they’re safe and trendy,” Erika Sward, the Assistant Vice President for the American Lung Association, explains to J-14. “However, e-cigarettes aren’t as safe as they’re marketed to be. Manufacturers are using these ads as a way to attract kids to their product and make it appear kid-friendly.”
But kid-friendly — they are not. In fact, while you may think electronic cigarettes are just pens used to inhale sweetly flavored water vapors, experts like Erika say that it’s much more complicated — and scary — than that. “It’s true that you theinhale vapor through a personal vaporizer or electronic cigarette, but the e-liquid being heated up inside the device most often contains nicotine and other dangerous chemicals, like formaldehyde, benzene and diacetyl — a chemical that causes popcorn lung, which is a terrible and irreversible lung disease,” she shares with us.
Also, since nicotine is one of the main ingredients being inhaled, e-cigs are very addictive. “Nicotine’s a drug that’s as addictive as heroin and cocaine — it’s extraordinarily hard to quit,” Erika tells J-14. “And while cigarettes in general have been shown to deliver the maximum amount of
nicotine, that’s not the case for e-cigarettes. Depending on which one you use, it can have more or less nicotine than a regular cigarette — which means they have a very powerful addiction.” And not only is the substance addictive, but the Surgeon General of the United States warns that it can even affect a teen’s brain development and behavioral impairments, including a person’s memory and attention spans.
Rising in popularity
With frightening facts like that, it’s shocking that vaping’s popularity is at an all-time high, especially since you’re not legally allowed to purchase e-cigs until you’re 18. But that hasn’t stopped tons of underage users from buying them online or getting them through older friends. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the use of e-cigarettes by middle school and high school students nearly tripled from 2013 to 2014, creating a “vape culture” among today’s generation of teens. And in 2015, stats revealed that one in four high schoolers had tried an e-cigarette before they graduated. “We’re walking down the same types of paths that we walked down with cigarettes in prior years,” Erika reveals. “E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among kids.”
Just say no
With all these warning signs — and not to mention, it being illegal to smoke an e-cigarette if you are under 18, it’s important that teens everywhere just say no to the dangerous trend. “E-cigarettes are very terrifying,” Erika tells J-14. “The chemicals in them alone frighten me. I would advise all teens to stay away from vaping.” In the end, Erika sums up, “The risks of smoking an e-cigarette are just not worth it.”
Fátima has voiced Dora since 2012. Last year alone,
three million American teens
▶ “I was shocked [when the e-cigarette exploded],” Leor says. His family is suing the Kings Plaza shopping center and the Plaza Vapes kiosk for the incident. Staying strong. ◀ “I remember I started crying and was bleeding!” he recalls of the scary moment.