The Epidemic with No Vaccine

By Dylan Gallagher ’19

    Even the Federal Drug Administration has noticed the increasing number of young people under the age of 18, or in California 21, smoking with vapes and e-cigarettes, including JUUL, the newest type of e-cigarette. There are many misconceptions among teenagers, and even adults, about what they are putting into their bodies when they use these products. A main offender is JUUL, which has quickly risen in popularity.

    According to the website,  JUUL was founded by former smokers “with the goal of improving the lives of the one billion adult smokers” and they “envision a world where fewer people use cigarettes.” The company’s original intent may have been to decrease the amount of adult smokers but since then, it has created an epidemic of users among today’s youth.

    The difference between a JUUL e-cigarette and a standard vape pen has do with the pods each JUUL product uses. Each pod contains liquid, so what exactly is in this JUUL liquid?  According to the Truth Initiative website, everytime someone vapes using these products, they are inhaling propylene glycol, glycerine, benzoic acid, nicotine, and JUUL product flavoring, such as mint and mango, which users find appealing. All of this liquid is heated to create an aerosol. It then becomes the job of the cilia in the lungs to filter out all of what is inhaled.

    In addition to the aerosol being potentially harmful to lungs, the amount of nicotine in a single JUUL pod is equal to a full pack of cigarettes. Truth Initiative reports. This level of nicotine to a regular adult smoker is not as dangerous compared to when a teen or preteen smokes. According to a report from the Center of Disease Control, the use of e-cigarettes from 2011 to 2015 rose from approximately 1.5 percent to 16 percent among high school students and from 0.6 percent to 5.3 percent among middle schoolers. This may not seem to be a large amount but when put into numbers, it comes out to over 2 million underage e-cigarette smokers nationwide.

    Recently the FDA has threatened JUUL and four other e-cigarette manufacturers. The FDA gave them 60 days to submit a plan on how they intend to do a better job keeping e-cigarettes out of children’s hands. So far, the FDA has already issued over 1,300 fines and warnings to retailers who had previously sold to underage people.

    What will come of this epidemic and will it get any better? Stay tuned.

Photo credit: Gabby Jones / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

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