By Lucy Dobson
On Wednesday, September 12, the F.D.A. ( Food and Drug Administration) , announced that teen vaping has come to “ an epidemic proportion.” The use of popular devices especially Juul, has skyrocketed recently with teenagers, who are mostly underaged. Based on a study by the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 3.6 million students both middle and high, were using some sort of tobacco product. The FDA has spoken about their concern, and has given major companies who manufacture popular e-cig devices 60 days to create a plan to put an end to teen vaping. A main concern expressed, is the kid friendly flavors advertised and sold by companies such as mint, blue raspberry lemonade, mango,and unicorn blood, specifically target teenagers. These popular flavors used my many teens make vaping taste good. The easily hideable, great tasting, and non- smelling devices make it easy for teens to use in school and at home without any adult knowledge. To continue,the high concentration of nicotine in these devices, also makes it easy for teens to get addicted.
What does that mean for students and teens? If companies fail to create a plan, or stop teen vaping, pods or flavored juice may disappear from the market, or companies possibly shut down. Action has been taken at the national level but also right here in Forest Hills, teachers and administrators have been educated on the popular devices and their appearances, since the issue has become more serious. The consequences and punishments have increased in severity, and many privileges can and will be taken if the rules are broken. Mr. Starling says to kids who get caught for vaping that they are “ walking lab rats,” which is important for kids to understand. The truth is, there is not enough research on these devices and how the smoke and chemicals affect lungs and brains, especially in still developing teenagers. Although nicotine has been thoroughly researched and proven to be highly addictive, there is little to no information on the other chemicals used in vape juice. Whether you partake in the vaping community or not, the truth is you have probably witnessed it, heard about it, or tried it. Peer pressure is real and the small thrill out of breaking rules is temptation hard to resist, especially when it seems that most teens , celebrities, or even a random person you pass while driving is doing it. Kids want to fit in and have fun, and adults want to protect children from har. It is hard to blame either side. Beyond the debate of wrong or right, teens are vaping, and the FDA is concerned.
Youth addiction is a complex issue. The truth is, there are not many available resources for kids who want help with nicotine addiction, that appeal to them. Why go to your parents or your school, if punishment is feared? As the issue becomes more severe, kids need resources they are comfortable asking for. Right now, it is quite literally waiting game. There is little to no intervention unless a teacher walks into the bathroom at the wrong time, or a parent finds a vape in a wallet or under a mattress. If you are an adult, think about how you would help students or teenagers, if they asked for help. If you are a teenager, think about how you would help other students, or if you yourself need help. This issue is in the spotlight right now, the public is talking and expressing worry, and with the FDA’s involvement, this will be all but swept under the rug.