Vape companies deceive teens into flavored death
May 2, 2023
Initially invented in the early 1960s by people who wanted to quit smoking cigarettes and weaken existing tobacco companies, the vape sank socially and technologically. However, in the early 2000s, vapes and e-Cigarettes returned to the smoking markets. Following the return, markets introduced vapes as a helpful alternative for tobacco and nicotine addicts trying to wean off the drugs. Vaping acts as a substitute for cigarette smoking, and imitates the inhale-exhale movement one would normally do; it results in aerosol or vapor as opposed to creating ash.
“I believe vaping is not as bad as cigarettes but is still a drug that is harmful to people’s mental and physical health,” senior Tre Gasden said.
In the past ten years, variations of the product have made their way through the nation, and vaping now reigns as this generation’s outlet. Candy, fruit and dessert-flavored vape cartridges such as donuts, cotton candy, apple pie, chocolate, cherry, Belgian waffle, strawberry milk, watermelon and bubblegum attract the eye of young people because the flavors resemble treats and foods they can enjoy without the bitter taste of nicotine. Now, an outbreak of vaping among teens encourages flavored death through the deceptive marketing efforts of vape companies. Also, through their underhanded tactics to attract youth, these vapes further trap them into a life of addiction and unknown effects. The importance of prevention and acting to fight against flavored death remains vital.
“Vaping is the new cigarette and in 40 years (if vapers survive) they’ll be looking worse than the people who smoke the natural herb. People who vape believe that vaping holds them together when it’s really their outlook on life,” junior Imani Wilson said.
Because teens act as easy targets for vape companies, they fall easily susceptible to deceptive marketing tactics. Curious teens love trying something new, especially if filled with the false idea that what they inhale will improve their anxiety and stress levels. These companies even designed packaging to appeal to teens. Marketing tactics further attempt to profit from young people by adjusting the overall appearance and the shape of e-cigarettes to appear like USB flash drives pens and highlighters— everyday items used in schools. Meanwhile, older models of e-cigarettes carry a cigarette, cigar, or pipe-like appearance.
“I understand its appeal as it’s advertised as being a healthier alternative but it is extremely destructive in regards to lung and heart health, especially to those that are younger or much older in age,” magnet senior Alina Autry said.
Vape markets trap young people into a life of addiction. Once someone vapes a device that contains nicotine within the e-liquid, the nicotine proceeds to seep into the bloodstream and stimulates the release of adrenaline and dopamine. Thus, providing a pleasure response to the brain. This pleasure response causes further use of the product and means addiction. Brains suffering from addiction cannot function without these devices because once someone’s brain solely relies on the pleasure from a smoking device it will need that from now on.
“Vaping shows people’s character. It shows how someone uses it as an escape instead of living in the moment and being persistent. It helps you escape reality and make friends because of similar habits. To compare cigarettes and vaping is just trying to mentally rationalize what is being done to our bodies,” junior Gyliesa Dickson said.
Long-term vaping can lead to nicotine dependence, which several teens who vape only notice when attempting to quit or see a video in regard to smoking consistently to function. Nicotine dependence can lead to disruptions in brain development and chemistry. Companies benefit from this because as long as people continue to purchase vapes, it enables their addiction and increases the companies’ profit. The younger the customer, the easier to persuade. After all, their already fragile brains can exhibit permanent damage if they alter their brain chemistry by vaping.
Vaping over time introduces risks of contracting lipoid pneumonia, which occurs when fatty substances like vegetable glycerin absorb into the lungs. A common chemical used to flavor these vape juices called diacetyl damages endothelial cells, which circulate blood and link to the popcorn lung: a condition that scars and obstructs the lung, so contrary to popular belief vaping will result in the same life-altering conditions cigarettes will. Vape cartridges containing juice made of THC— the main psychotropic ingredient in marijuana—or nicotine, and other heavy metals such as nickel tin and lead,\ puts consumers at risk of coughing, fevers shortness of breath and E-cigarette or Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI).
EVALI, originally named vaping Associated pulmonary illness (VAPI) underwent a rename because of the increase in severe lung cases related to the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products. Associated with vitamin E acetate— an additive found in some vaping products containing THC— vitamin E acetate contains an oily chemical added to THC vaping liquids to thicken or dilute them. Since the discovery of the first case in 2019, research continues to understand the new and unknown disease. The long-term effects of EVALI leave a multitude of people unsure of an answer, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports show that the vaping-related lung disease resulted in the hospitalization of 3,000 people and 68 deaths as early as 2020 when the disease reached its peak. Out of the cases reported, 96% of patients required hospitalization, including some who died. As of right now, the sources of treatment depend on the severity of the illness; primary treatments include antibiotics and corticosteroids to help fight inflammation in the lungs. Researchers now find that once patients regain the ability to breathe independently and receive a discharge, they then relapse and die soon after leaving the hospital.
The cycle of smoking devices and the substitution effect constantly takes place as people continue searching for cheaper ways to smoke and feel desired effects. First cigarettes trended, then vapes replaced them, then the effects of marijuana replaced nicotine as marijuana introduced health benefits like easing chronic pain and inflammation. The social contagion of smoking and vaping adjusts the social norms around drugs. For example in the early ’90s- 2000s cigarette smoking appeared trendy as models were featured on magazine covers with a cigarette in hand and everyone had to try it. Fast forward to 2023, society shifted to vaping as the modern-day cigarette.
The long and short-term impact teenagers succumb to because of the deceptive marketing efforts made by these vape companies to attract them remains the strongest reason for discussing vaping and nicotine dependence prevention. Spreading awareness of the devastating effects on the new generation of teens continues as a long overdue conversation for them.
Vaping marketers never cease trying to reach teens so similar to the saying “don’t hate the player, hate the game,” changing the game can shift the number of teens exposed.
Numerous people maintain an unawareness of drugs until they enter middle school or high school. It all starts with an increased discussion around smoking from parents to their kids for awareness before they expose themselves to it in school. Schools can also actively assist in the change to improve the livelihood of teens and youth nationwide by implementing assemblies to spread awareness and provisions and promoting living drug-free or quitting vape. This outbreak affects a generation that will not receive the chance to inhale a clean breath without a cough.
“Without proper education, people won’t be aware of the effects caused by vaping devices or other alternatives until it’s too late to undo what is done,” Autry said.