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  • Daniella Palomino

If it’s so bad, then why do teens still vape?

By: Daniella Palomino, Contributing Writer

Edited by: Fatou Kourouma, Editor; Elias Azizi, Editor in Chief

Warning signs of vaping are everywhere. They are played as commercials on TV, displayed as ads on social media apps, and even on the package. Despite all of the warnings and harmful side effects, teens still are vaping. On the surface, it is easy to blame the appeal of fruity flavors and apparent easy access, but there has to be more. There has to be more than just mango-flavored smoke that is enticing enough for a teen to jeopardize their future health.

What is Vaping

Vaping is not just JUULs, but rather is an umbrella term for all Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). According to SingleCare, vaping addresses vape pens, pods, tanks, mods, and electronic cigarettes. All of these different methods involve vaporizing a liquid, which is made of propylene, glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings. Vaping initially became popularized as an alternative to smoking, since the heating component used to vaporize the liquid does not involve itself with combustion or smoke. Despite there being a lack of combustion, vaping still poses its own set of health risks that at times align itself with regular smoking.

Why is it Bad

Considering that vaping is still a relatively new invention, the long term health effects are still unclear. Though, in the short time it has existed, medical professionals have already compiled a list of different health complications associated with vaping. The WECHU explains how studies have found that smoking and vaping produce similar diseases. The WECHU organization also reported that vaping may lead to the inflammation of lungs, an increased heart rate, and an increased blood pressure. The nicotine involved in vaping also alters brain development, especially for those under 25 years old (whose brains are still developing).The University of Rochester Medical Center, also reports how vaping leads to mental fog, impacting the ability to concentrate, remember, and make decisions. Besides the effects of the inhalation, the device itself poses a risk as they may explode, causing injury and fires. Considering the high levels of nicotine in the device, at times being almost as much as a pack of cigarettes, vaping delivers more toxins than the body can tolerate and because of this, it is highly addictive.

Why do Teens Vape

Although all of the aforementioned information is gleaned over in warning commercials and ads, SingleCare reports that the number of youth vapers rose 1,800% from 2011 to 2019 (a statistic pulled from the Truth Initiative, 2019). In short, the appeal to vaping can be summarized with curiosity, peer pressure, normalized behavior, addiction, appeal of flavors, trendiness, and apparent harmlessness (WECHU). Statistically speaking, 61% of teens that vape do so to “experiment”, 42% because they like the taste, 38% to have a good time, 37% to relieve tension, and 29% to feel good or get high (SingleCare article, Monitoring the Future 2019). But how does inhaling fruity, toxic vapour lead to people having a ”good time”, or “relieve tension”, or even “feel good or get high”? CNET explains that when nicotine is inhaled, it attaches to ACh receptors of the brain (which are locations of the brain that are responsible for executing the ACh neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, message for muscle contractions, memory, cognition, and more). Now that these ACh receptors are blocked, a chemical reaction takes place that creates sensations of relaxation, calmness, and euphoria. Inhalation of nicotine also increases dopamine production, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and motivation. All of these biological processes that take place when someone vapes are what creates this addictive appeal. As the statistic showed, 61% start off out of curiosity. It is the appeal of the high, appeal of the trendy look, appeal of how harmless it appears, that attracts teens to this fatal health habit. It is the addiction that makes them stay.

What if I am already Addicted

It is not uncommon for teens to become addicted, and fortunately, all hope is not lost for those who are and are interested in quitting. recommends healthier alternatives to combat withdrawal. It is suggested to chew sugar free gum and drink water, text/call/hangout with a supportive friend, listen to your favorite playlist, go for a walk or jog, yoga, keep hands busy with drawing or making jewelry, or go where it is not allowed in order to combat in the moment urges when trying to quit. Finding what works for you is key, and it may not be what was previously mentioned. The important aspect of it is to keep committed to quitting. The beginning is the hardest, with withdrawal in full swing, but by taking it one day at a time, the symptoms will start to gradually wear off. The method of quitting may vary but one thing is definite, and that is that your health will be much better if you stop vaping.

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