By Katie Van Lew
According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, the smoking rate among adults has steadily declined in the last fifty years from 42.5% to 14%. Although cigarette use has decreased, the electronic cigarette industry’s popularity has been ascending at an alarming rate.
In response to the vaping epidemic, President Trump recently announced his intention to call for a ban on electronic cigarettes and cannabis-infused vaping products. The Trump Administration is currently working to cease the manufacturing and distribution of flavored electronic cigarette cartridges, specifically targeting JUUL Labs. Many states, including Michigan and New York, have already taken the initiative to invest money in campaigns to ban flavored cartridges in an effort to prevent young adults from vaping.
The most prominent and targeted audience that captivates the electronic cigarette industry is young adults. JUUL Labs, Inc., among the most popular and profitable of electronic cigarette companies, appeals to a younger audience because of it’s sleek and easily concealable device. Furthermore, JUUL Labs offers a wide variety of cartridge or “pod” flavors, including mango, cucumber, creme brulee, and mint. The enticing flavors invite young adults to receive their nicotine fix without the “guilt” of smoking cigarettes. According to a study conducted by the New York Public Interest Research Group, five million minors, the majority of them being high school students, reported that they had used electronic cigarettes recently, with about one-quarter of high school students reported having vaped in the past 30 days.
Vaping has become a prevalent problem among college students, as well.
“We are an undergraduate university and that is who Juul Labs and electronic cigarette corporations market to,” said junior nursing major at Catholic University, Juliet Lodes. “With all the reports coming out about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and collapsed lungs, it is important to not dismiss this.”
With new cases of illness arising as well as the relentless pressure from President Trump’s Administration, the Food and Drug Administration is rapidly working to ban all flavored JUUL cartridges, including mint and menthol, which were originally excluded from the ban.
The Center for Disease Control has ascertained that there have been six reported deaths linked to vaping and over 380 cases of lung illness to date. Among the people hospitalized from vaping, many have acquired acute respiratory distress syndrome and variations of pneumonia
Targeting the culprit of what is causing these illnesses is a more arduous task than expected. In cases of vaping-related illnesses, people have admitted to using either marijuana-infused vapes and nicotine vapes, while others have experimented with both. Since there are many different companies offering a wide range of electronic cigarettes, the dilemma of finding which ingredient is accelerating illness will take scientists longer to discern.
Although the Food and Drug Administration is unsure of a specific ingredient that is triggering the illness, health professionals such as Tamanna Singh, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, have concluded that the vaping solution, “when vaporized and inhaled consists of particles associated with cardiopulmonary toxicity and cancer.”
Aside from the risk of inhaling carcinogens, electronic cigarettes contain the highly addictive chemical nicotine. The effects of nicotine increase the risk of cardiovascular-related deaths such as heart attacks and strokes.
With lung disease and nicotine addiction afflicting the nation’s youth, President Trump’s initiative is a necessary first step in the cessation of the vaping epidemic.