The Student Newspaper of Suncoast High School

A Broken Generation

How teens are getting hooked on vaping

April 12, 2021

America has been dealing with two pandemics for over a year now. One of them being the Covid-19 pandemic and the other in the form of teenage vaping abuse, both of which have taken America by surprise.

JUULs and vapes are the biggest contributors to this substance abuse epidemic happening in America. The easy accessibility of JUULs and vapes and the appealing ads of JUUL found on most TV networks have caused a surge in the number of teens that use JUULs or vapes. 

According to Tobacco 21, a website that advocates about the teen vaping epidemic, “In just the last few years JUUL, Puff Bar and other e-cigarette (vape) products have managed to reverse nearly two decades of progress in reducing teenage addiction to nicotine. JUUL, a Silicon Valley startup created a slickly designed liquid nicotine pod system and then engaged a tsunami of social media marketing cynically directed at adolescents. JUUL purchased youthful “influencers” to target large teen audiences on Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and other platforms.”

In addition to appealing advertisements with young adults on them, JUUL has “cool & flavorful” flavors. These flavors include crème brûllée, mango, cool mint, fruit medley, cool cucumber, and classic menthol. Teens can also use JUULs in secrecy in classes because JUULs have a similar look to USB flash drives that every student has. 

Nicotine addiction does not discriminate against any teen. As reported by the TIME, Devon Scheetz is a 15-year-old who has a severe case of asthma along with a severe addiction to vapes that he got rid of over the summer of 2019 with the help of a nicotine patch. After he went back to school, Devon went back to his vaping addiction and ended up sweating profusely and vomiting. Devon’s mother, Jami Scheetz, said that “vaping scares me more than smoking because they don’t know what’s in it”.

Another teen in Florida did not meet the same fate as Devon. As stated by US News, “the mother of a Florida teenager has sued Juul Labs over the death of her son, accusing the e-cigarette manufacturer of hooking the 18-year-old on vaping and nicotine – a habit she says killed him last year.” 

Most teens that vape or use JUULs do not realize that the amount of nicotine, which is the substance that causes cigarettes to be addictive, in one JUUL pod is equal to the nicotine in 30 cigarettes. 

Vaping has shown similar long term and short term effects to regular cigarettes. Short term side effects such as coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, dry mouth and more have been proven by a 2014 study done by Tobacco Control. In another study done by Live Science in 2016, long term side effects of vaping were shown to include lung injuries, respiratory problems, heart attacks, strokes, reproductive issues and low birth weights during pregnancies. 

Hardcore drug abuse usually starts with a lower type of gateway “drug” such as marijuana or cigarettes according to the Foothills at Red Oak Recovery Program. Putting two and two together will leave you with the conclusion that vaping causes teens to start smoking cigarettes. And in turn, the cigarette smoking causes hardcore drug abuse which has seen a spike in drug overdose deaths ever since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

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