Staff Editorial: Is vaping worth the risk? That’s up to you

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Over the past few years, more and more teens have been vaping and using dab pens, and this habit is proving to be fatal. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 530 cases of serious lung injuries related to vaping have been reported.

The CDC also stated that the illness has been associated with a wide range of symptoms—patients have reported coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Eight deaths have been confirmed.

Some might argue that these numbers are so small that they’re negligible. But one of the most troubling aspects of this illness is how quickly the number of cases has grown. In mid-August, three dozen people were diagnosed with a vaping-related sickness. On Sept. 11, 380 cases were reported. Now it’s 530 cases. And these numbers will likely continue to grow.

Little is known about the long-term health effects of vaping. Unlike cigarettes, which have been around long enough for extensive and long-term studies to be conducted, vaping is a relatively new phenomenon. There is not a lot of conclusive data on how e-cigarettes or dab pens can affect your health.

Although it has been concluded that this illness and the resulting fatalities are linked to vaping, the exact cause is still unclear.

“There is no definitive link to any brand of device, ingredient, flavor or substance,” stated an NPR article.

For years, e-cigarette companies have marketed their products to a young audience. Most of the companies use social media platforms to advertise their products, which means that these ads are reaching a mostly younger audience. Furthermore, the sleek look, fun flavors, and ease of use have also drawn many teens and young adults to vaping. As a result, this issue is particularly pertinent to our school and community.

It’s undeniable that vaping products can be a useful tool for people who are trying to quit smoking. So how can this issue be handled? If Juuls and e-cigarettes are completely banned, these products would no longer be available to ex-smokers or those who are trying to quit.

Some states have passed legislation banning all flavored pods in order to reduce the number of kids and teens using Juul and comparable products. Michigan passed a ban on flavored e-cigarettes last week—the ban prohibited the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes, including menthol and mint flavored products. As stated by illinoispolicy.org, Pritzker has endorsed these bans, but Illinois has yet to pass any similar restrictions.

It is still unclear whether or not these bans will actually help to reduce instances of vaping-related illness or addiction in young adults. These bans, while a step in the right direction, fail to address black market e-cigarette products. Many of the recent illnesses have been connected to the use of nicotine and THC pods that are bought on the street. Regulation of legal products is a good idea, but it cannot completely solve this problem. Even if such bans are successfully implemented, kids who want e-cigarette products will undeniably find a way to purchase them.

Legislation is already being challenged by both e-cigarette companies and stores that sell the products. Since companies such as Juul have lobbying power in Washington, it is unclear whether the bans already implemented or that will be implemented would stay for long. As stated in the Washington Post, Juul Labs has significant political influence.

“[Juul Labs] hired senior White House officials wired into President Trump and the first family. It sent politically connected officials to the West Wing to extol its products. It spent big on lawmakers in both parties.”

Influence by corporations like Juul Labs will make it challenging for any further sweeping changes to happen either on a national or local level. So, the decision whether or not to vape will most likely rest on the shoulders of individuals—at least for the time being.

In light of the recent developments, we encourage students to stop vaping, or at least strongly consider the health risks before vaping. For students that are addicted to or overuse vape products, seek support. Ultimately, you are the one who will decide how vaping will affect you.

If you want to die of pulmonary diseases or lipoid pneumonia, that’s on you.

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