Vaping devices pose a threat to young students

Vaping devices have become increasingly popular among young people, and legal action must be taken to prevent an epidemic. Graphic by Maria Nevada

Will Patterson

Despite the falling use of cigarettes amongst young people, nicotine consumption is still on the rise. Vaping devices have given young people a new way to get addicted and it’s time that measurements are taken to combat it.

E-cigarettes have flourished in a market void of tar-filled smoking options. A good chunk of their success can be attributed to the belief that without the harmful chemicals present in old smoking options, e-cigarettes must not have negative health effects. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Nicotine addiction is harmful to health. Any addiction can be harmful—physically and mentally.

University of Nebraska at Omaha health professor Dr. Richard Stacey is outspoken in his opposition to the tobacco industry and other groups generating revenue through drug addiction.

“I’m pretty much a strong anti-smoking and anti-tobacco person. I don’t like the industry,” Stacey said. “This seems to be an effort on their part to show something else and profit off people’s addiction to nicotine. “

A common misconception is that vaping is a healthy alternative to smoking. As Stacey explained, nicotine consumption still produces health problems—even without the toxic chemicals in cigarettes. Particularly, nicotine makes arteries around the body become smaller, making blood circulation more difficult. This is harmful to everyone’s health, especially pregnant women.

“It is my fear that women who vape during pregnancy will run the risk of a low-weight baby,” Stacey said. “An underweight baby is one of the worst things that can happen in pregnancy.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) press release, 1,300 companies caught selling Juul devices and other vaping equipment to minors were sent warning letters and fines. Additionally, the press release announced that e-cigarette manufacturers will have to explain how they’re specifically not marketing to young people or face serious consequences.

I previously viewed the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s campus-wide ban of e-cigarettes as unfair treatment to nicotine addicts. I know realize that these precautions are limiting nicotine exposure to incoming students and other young people visiting campus.

“The greatest benefit to having a smoke-free campus is young people—who aren’t even college-aged—when they come for sporting events or kid’s programs, they don’t see people smoking,” Stacey said. “That’s more evidence that policies like this are raising a generation that isn’t seeing people smoke.”

The university is partially responsible for steering students towards healthy lifestyles. Anti-nicotine measurements are just one of the many steps that needed to be taken.

In the future, people should encourage their lawmakers to fight the nicotine-based industries and be aware of new ways these industries will market themselves. More addictive products are bound to be developed, and the next generation will have their own challenges. Vigilance and legal action are key in eliminating our community’s widespread nicotine use.