Teenage Nicotine Addiction

by | Oct 10, 2018 | Health & Happiness

The recent emergence of e-cigarettes, particularly juuls in high schools today, has sidetracked the once encouraging statistics about teenage smoking habits.

There are commercials and advertisements on nearly every teen dominated media platform. Commercials that employ disturbing images of the effects of tobacco or enlist celebrities through a use of ethos. Campaigns encourage teenagers to spread the truth about nicotine use and to be the generation that ends cigarette smoking. If one considers only cigarette use, that goal has been a successful one, with high school cigarette habits dropping from 34.8% in 1999 to 7.6% in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If the goal of lowering cigarette trends was expanded, however, to nicotine use in general, the trends are a lot less encouraging. The recent emergence of e-cigarettes, particularly juuls in high schools today, has sidetracked the once encouraging statistics about teenage smoking habits. Juuls eliminate the burning of tobacco and instead heat liquid containing nicotine and other flavors into a vapor. These battery powered e-cigarettes are growing in popularity in high schools across the country.

The US Surgeon General reported a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students from 2011 to 2015. The 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey reported that 1.7 million high schools students stated they had some form of electronic cigarette. And while many had hoped that the introduction of e-cigarettes would help people transfer from the more harmful practice of cigarette smoking to simply vapor for their nicotine fix, studies show e-cigarettes are not having that effect. A study done by the University of Southern California that followed 5,490 high school seniors that graduated between 1995 and 2014 found that e-cigarettes are introducing an entirely new group of high school students to nicotine usage, rather than drawing those already introduced to cigarettes away from them.

The US Surgeon General reported a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students from 2011 to 2015. The 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey reported that 1.7 million high schools students stated they had some form of electronic cigarette.

The US Surgeon General and the National Youth Tobacco Survey

The question remains as to why e-cigarettes are so rapidly growing in popularity when nicotine addiction was previously facing it’s decline. The first answer many are offering is that many e-cigarette companies are seemingly advertising specifically to a teenage demographic. One example many are pointing to are the flavors of e-cigarettes. According to Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, flavors like tutti frutti, cotton candy, and sour gummy worm appeal more to younger users rather than older ones.

Another major reason teens are adopting vaping in scores is because of the common belief that because e-cigarettes produce vapor rather than smoke, they won’t have any negative effects on the body later on. It’s much easier to take a hit off something when your friend offers it and assures you that, unlike cigarettes, there’s no chance of cancer or lung disease. However, this fact is impossible to prove. The fact of the matter is, e-cigarettes have not been around long enough to have valid results as to the health effects of them after years of usage, as they were only invented in 2003. But, as more year pass since their invention, studies are emerging showing negative health effects. A study published in the journal Pediatrics by Dr. Mark L. Rubinstein found that teenagers who vape are exposing themselves to chemicals that have been linked to cancer. In addition, e-cigarettes have also been found to be a sort of gateway drug into the use of cigarettes according to a study done by the University of California, San Francisco.

As misinformation and advertising towards teenagers run rampant, the previously lowered nicotine usage statistics are on the rise again. If trends continue on the way they are forecasted, it seems less and less likely that this generation will be the one to #endit.

Shelby Beck

Author

Story By: Shelby Beck, 17