According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, there’s been a 78% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students between 2017 and 2018. The numbers are staggering and the concern is becoming more and more prevalent.
Little is known about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes, however, according to the FDA, some long-lasting effects may include an increase in impulsivity, mood disorders and even drug-seeking behaviors.
Vaping has slowly become an alternative way for teenagers to enjoy themselves while out with friends. For many of them, it is less about quitting cigarettes and more about trying something new for the first time that can be easily concealed.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, there are major concerns that teenagers become addicted to nicotine by vaping and may be more likely to smoke cigarettes as adults.
“I think we should be putting less time in prevention; cause they’re always going to find a way. There are just some things we can’t control. We need to spend more time creating things that are better for you that can satisfy those desires…teens are just looking for things to do when they hang out and they don’t just want a soda pop,” said Erin Kelly, a 22-year-old who started vaping at 20 years old.
Prevention plans have been published by many different health organizations, including the FDA, who lists things such as preventing youth access to tobacco products, changing the marketing of products aimed at youth and educating them about the dangers of using tobacco products.
However, like Kelly said, teenagers are looking for things to do and sometimes prevention may not always work. Some alternatives to cigarettes other than e-cigarettes include herbal cigarettes such as clove cigarettes. However, according to the American Associates Society, they give off tar and carbon monoxide.
“Overall, they [e-cigarettes] seem like a mildly better alternative and if you’re trying to quit smoking cigarettes, I see the benefits. But at the end of the day, you’re still addicted to a chemical,” said 19-year-old Caylee Sasser, who does not smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
Studies also done by The New England Journal of Medicine show that vaping is more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine-replacement therapy.
“My advice would be to avoid the habit and try to distance yourselves from the act of smoking… try to find something beneficial to do. Make someone’s bad habit your trigger to improve yourself. Definitely avoid it and develop your mind to react against the urge if it should so arise,” said Bradley Moore, a 25-year-old who started smoking cigarettes in high school.
Moore smoked cigarettes for four years, getting to the point of smoking about a pack a day, before he started vaping. He vaped for another three years until he decided to quit nicotine altogether.
“These past 10 months I’ve finally managed to quit both and create habits to enforce other things versus a craving I filled the gap with. Sunflower seeds worked well.” Moore said.
If you’re trying to quit smoking cigarettes, vaping may be a good option for you if you’re struggling to quit cold turkey. However, if one isn’t attempting to quit smoking, it’d be best if e-cigarettes are not on your to-do-list.