Vaping epidemic takes 17 lives across country, elicits possible ban across entire United States

Helena Hong
staff writer

The once believed to be harmless action of vaping has been revealed to be the cause of 17 deaths across the country. A “mysterious lung disease [has] sickened 530 people,” Angelica Lavito, a news reporter from CNBC, said.

E-cigarettes were initially created and advertised to adults who were trying to quit smoking. They were said to be a better alternative because these e-cigarettes do not contain tar or release toxic gases. According to the National Youth Tobacco Study, more than 3.6 million middle school and high school students currently use e-cigarettes.

This study revealed that 3.3 percent of middle school students and 11.7 percent of high school students vaped in the last 30 days. This is a dramatic increase from 2011, where only 0.6 percent of middle school students and 1.5 percent of high school students vaped. “I can tell that many high schoolers vape because even in the bathrooms, there are signs to spread awareness on how vaping is bad and people shouldn’t do it but people vandalized it, saying ‘YOLO,’ clearly showing they don’t care,” senior Jonathan Kim said.

These devices heat a liquid, which then creates a vapor and is inhaled into the lungs. The liquid may contain “a combination of propylene glycol or glycerol as a base, and nicotine, marijuana, or flavored chemicals to produce common or outlandish flavors from mint to ‘unicorn puke’,” Kathleen Raven, a writer for Yale Medicine, said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that 69 percent of middle and high school students were exposed to e-cigarettes from sources such as the internet, retail stores, newspapers and magazines. Vaping companies that sold flavored juices, such as mango, green apple and blue razz lemonade, have been banned from selling flavored products due to the fact that it appeals to the youth. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that these flavors could be the reason for the growing epidemic in kids. “I think it is a good idea to ban flavored juices because the flavors sound kid-friendly and appeal to young people. If someone heard Sour Patch juice, they would think ‘Oh, it’s like candy’,” sophomore Annabelle Cho said.

The biggest problem is that kids do not know that vapes are harmful. “I understand why vaping is becoming a big thing. In the beginning, not many people knew that they were bad for you and there were so many flavors like raspberry and cotton candy, that sound harmless and like it would taste good. Once people found out it was bad for you, they could have been already addicted,” junior Ella Teichberg said. (WTOP) reports that starting on Oct. 1, Maryland businesses that sell nicotine products will only be allowed to sell to those who are 21 or older. Montgomery County lawmakers are also trying to ban the sale of vape products within half-a-mile of middle and high schools.

There has been a decrease of vaping in school. “Compared to last year, there have been less incidents of vaping. So far so good,” Harold Warren, security, said.

According to CNBC, there have been eleven deaths that are linked to vaping and over 500 people who are sick. The number of illnesses is increasing every day, with symptoms, according to the CDC, that include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, fever and more. The CDC does not know the specific causes of these illnesses. They do know that vaping is no longer as safe as everyone once thought it was. Until they know more, they recommend that people refrain from vaping.

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