By Skye Johnson
Over the past few years, e-cigarettes have dominated the tobacco industry, leaving hundreds and thousands of teens addicted to fruity and sweet flavored nicotine-filled vape pens. When e-cigarettes were first introduced, the health risks were relatively unknown. Now, vaping is directly linked to cases of teenagers on life support, with at least one teenager from New York dying after smoking e-cigarettes.
Every year, the percentage of kids who use these products increases according to the US Food and Drug Administration, begging the question of how Oyster Bay High School students are affected.
As a student at OBHS, it is easy to see that vaping and electronic cigarettes are present. Throughout the United States, 1 in 5 teens in high school uses vape products according to Rob Stein of npr.org Public Health. The San-Francisco-based company Juul runs over 70% of the tobacco industry today, shedding light on how massive the issue of e-cigarettes has become.
Since vaping is perceived as acceptable, it has become the norm to see these products in the hands of teens across Long Island. Over the past few years, Juul and other e-cigarettes have continued to gain popularity.
“Juul became the modern cig,” says a male senior. “No one knew the risks when it first came out and now people are strapped to breathing machines because they can’t breathe on their own.''
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided to put a temporary ban on flavored e-cigarettes for six months, hoping to alleviate this major problem among teens. Cuomo decided to initiate a ban, taking place mid-October 2020, for six months.
This ban will rid all flavored nicotine products, except for tobacco flavor.
A female junior says, “I think the ban will help the kids who want to quit because it will make it a lot harder to find places where they still have [vape products]. A lot of my friends want to quit, but it’s hard.”
Tobacco and vape products are waived from being FDA regulated, mostly because of the revenue the products rake in every year.
After speaking to a small group of OBHS students, the majority have used or know someone who has used vape products. Those who do use these products expressed that they want to quit but have tried and failed, while others say they probably won’t ever quit. As more and more cases of sick teens appear, high schools become more aware of the dangers of vaping and make an effort to help students avoid these addictive products. The ban, taking place in the near future, won’t solve the problem, but it is a positive step toward helping an addicted nation.
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