The Secret Truth Behind Vaping In America

Will Mahan, Contributing Writer

In our society right now, if a person dies from smoking a cigarette, Marlboro and other typical cigarette companies get partially blamed for the victim’s death, yet if a person dies from a vaping connected illness, no one blinks an eye.

This is the unfortunate reality that has been deemed a major health risk in other countries. Brazil, Singapore, the Seychelles, and Uruguay are all countries in which e-cigarettes have been banned. It’s a difficult debate as to whether vaping should also be banned in the United States. On one hand, vaping has contributed to the staggering number of over 480,000 Americans that die a year from nicotine traced illnesses. On the other hand, it has to be asked of whether it is a government’s place to determine what law abiding citizens can and can not do in their own private lives. Should the government really be able to tell an American citizen that they can’t spend their time vaping, an activity that may harm themselves, but no one else around them?

Several bipartisan solutions have been discussed regarding this crisis, including banning e-cigarette ads on television, as well as banning specific e-flavored cigarettes to help curb the amount of juuling in America. The universal agreement among Americans right now is that no matter what the solution is, we have to somehow address this growing problem. According to the National Institute On Drug Abuse, “30.70% of e-cigarette users start smoking after 6 months.” Smoking is another serious problem that had started to die down in popularity among young people, however with the introduction of e-cigarettes the number of regular cigarette users has started to rise once again.

A lot of the problem lies not just in the culture that we perpetuate in our society regarding smoking, but also in the marketing that e-cigarette companies have been releasing to young people. This year Juul Labs, the largest e-cigarette company in the world, started a 10 billion dollar advertisement campaign: “Make The Switch,” that claims to be aimed at getting youth to transfer from using regular cigarettes into using e-cigarettes. This type of advertisement is very manipulative and somewhat unethical. Although e-cigarettes have been proven to be much more healthy than regular cigarettes since they don’t produce the tar or toxic gas that regular cigarettes would produce in use, e-cigarettes still predominantly contain nicotine and consistent use has proven to have bad health outcomes including hazardous lung diseases and much more. A lot of this problem regarding manipulative and unethical advertising is being addressed as we speak. CNN recently chose to take e-cigarette and juul commercials off of their streaming service as other companies have begun to follow suit. This progress is encouraging, however on its own is not even close to the substance of action that we need to take if we are going to get to the root of this epidemic and solve it in its entirety. If we want to systematically address this problem in a way that does not infringe upon peoples’ personal and civil liberties than we need to change the culture of our society. This change of culture can be done through three basic steps.

First we need to immediately restrict e-cigarette companies from selling flavored e-cigarettes. This action alone will immediately help reduce the  number of people that vape, by revealing what the flavoring in the e-cigarettes is hiding, that being nicotine. According to the National Institute On Drug Abuse, “66.00% of teens say that just flavoring is inside their e-cigarettes. A big reason for this is the fact that e-cigarette companies have been able to sneakily make the flavors cover up where teens getting their highs are actually getting them from. The fact that over half of teens in the United States that are vaping believe that e-cigarettes only have flavoring, and don’t have health risks related to nicotine and lung disease attached to them is staggering, and shows the extent to which e-cigarette companies have been able to confuse teens regarding the actual ingredients inside of their juuls. Once we ban flavored e-cigarettes we will immediately help the majority of the country see exactly what ingredients a juul consists of, and the risks attached to vaping or juuling.

Next we need to make sure that we take all e-cigarette advertisements off the airwaves immediately. The fact that big tobacco companies have been banned from TV and Radio for nearly 50 years, yet e-cigarette companies are allowed to continue selling nicotine laced products is not only jarring but also absolutely wrong. Despite claiming that their advertisements were for older Americans, Juul Labs had predominantly spent their money putting ads up on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Not only this, but the ads also had young twenty year old stars partying, something that was clearly not a marketing move geared towards older Americans. The ads then started spreading like wildfire among young people all over social media under the hashtag #juul.  Dr. Robert Jackler, a professor and principal investigator at Stanford Research Into The Impact Of Tobacco Advertising even said, “There’s overwhelming evidence that the behavior of Juul contributed to the product being sold to youth.” According to a National Youth Tobacco Survey last year only “21% of high schoolers reported e-cigarette use,” that number skyrocketed to a whopping “78% of high schoolers reporting e-cigarette use” this year. It is obvious that e-cigarettes should not be manipulatively sold to our youth; the real question has become how to stop these companies from overstepping the line. The best way to do this is by putting limits on their advertising strategies and by putting an end to flavor vaping. These two steps alone will go a long way in stopping the vaping epidemic that we are currently seeing among our youth today.

We as a society must make sure that we have an open discussion about this issue in order to find solutions to the problem at hand. The number of young people with lung damage will only increase if we don’t take action to address excessive vaping in one way or another. The next generation is in our hands, now is the time to find rational solutions to this problem before it grows out of proportion.