Story by Savannah Wallingford, Logan Morneault, Derek Holman, Forrest Bertrand-Pfender - Terryville High School
Cigarette use among high school students has been going down, but it has been replaced by something new. E-cigarettes, like vapes and JUULs, are becoming popular in high schools across the country.
According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, 11.7 percent of high school students and 3.3 percent of middle school students—over 2.1 million children—were current JUUL users in 2017. Through 2018 this has doubled, demonstrating the growth of this ongoing epidemic.
Although many students see them as harmless, e-cigarettes come with dangerous side-effects. Each JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes, making them highly addictive to adults and adolescents. A package of 4 JUUL pods costs is slightly higher than an average pack of cigarettes, but allows for each pod to equate to being a cheaper alternative. A single pack of cigarettes costs substantially more than a single pod, making JUULs much more addictive per dollar than traditional cigarettes. This high concentration of nicotine, low prices, and fun flavors, like mango and mint, make them even more attractive. However, JUUL has recently banned these flavors in order to try to prevent minors from using their products.
Another problem that has arised from vaping is how easy it is for teens to acquire a vape. “I think they’re (the school administration) doing all they can do,” said Anthony Garutti, a high school student. “As far as I’ve seen in this school, it is fairly easy to get your hands on a vape.” Initially, students purchased JUULs and other e-cigarettes from local gas stations, although recently, some have started selling them to other students. Many local stores do not enforce laws regarding the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. While JUUL has also started to sell their vapes online to stop the problem, there are still many other vapes available to fill the spot where JUUL was.
This ongoing problem will be hard to stop, but raising awareness of the problem will help others realize the harmful side effects of these devices. It is important for parents to become involved and communicate with their children about the side effects that vaping causes. For more information, go to www.thetruth.com
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