Vaping Epidemic in American Schools

Skyla Rubek, Reporter

With cigarette use on a steady decline in young people, many thought the dangers to go along with it would disappear. However, when e-cigarettes and other vaping products hit the market with the promise of being safe, the epidemic began all over again. There is now research and even deaths to show that safe is not the case. The death toll of healthy young people due to vaping is on the rise since early in the year, and Rhode Island is trying to do something about it. 

E-cigarettes came out in 2003, but only became popular within recent years. Mrs. Melissa Rafferty attributes this to, “a combination of ease of access and marketing strategies,” she says, “sleek design, they’re easy to hide, [they] look like pens or USBs…” This ease of access has introduced young people to smoking regularly. 

These people who have picked up vaping are essentially guinea pigs because we really do not know the long term effects vaping has and we are just finding out that there are also short term health issues. Mrs. Rafferty describes vapes as, “[having] liquid nicotine and when the liquid heats up it produces vapors and that is what you inhale”, and Mrs. Rafferty adds, “you can also vape THC.” 

THC products have been found to be the common link of the deaths due to vaping. There is a lot of speculation as to what is in these products that is causing the deaths, but the most likely is Vitamin E oil that when inhaled coats the lungs. Rhode Island issued a ban on any flavored vape pods to deter more young people from joining the trend. 

One anonymous student says that they believe this ban is a good thing for the state to regulate, she says, “It’s an attempt for a healthier community. Cigarettes were widely used until the dangers were spread about them, and e-cigarettes have not been tested enough to know their problems.” 

These deaths have even caused some students to quit who have been vaping for years. Another student says, “[he] had been vaping since sophomore year, but [he] stopped because of all the news going around.” 

We do not know what the future will hold, but a crack down on vaping is important to ensure no more deaths will come.