Addiction has been an issue that America, and even the rest of the world, has faced since the very dawn of time. Addictive substances have only since diversified, regardless of the lack of scientific data that can claim that these substances are safe for consumption. A specific age group is being targeted with these addictive substances, now more than ever. Vapes are the new nicotine trend and vape companies are gearing their advertisements towards adolescents, who are more prone to addiction than other age groups.
Although the rise of social media and advertisement culture has contributed to an increase in awareness about the dangers of addictive substances, that doesn’t seem to stop teenagers and young adults alike from engaging in these flavorful puffs of smoke that are convenient to carry around in your pocket. Addicts often combat opposition to what they're doing by saying, “there’s no scientific evidence that says vaping is bad for you” or “vaping is better than regular smoking, so it’s whatever.” Well, it is not whatever. In fact, it is quite literally leading to these children’s downfalls later in life.
Exposure to the chemicals found within e-cigarettes during periods of critical brain growth, like adolescence, have shown to cause impulsive behavior (Onojighofia). If that isn’t convincing enough, then it’s also important to know that other studies show increased aggressive behavior, suicide attempts, and other forms of substance abuse when teenagers used vapes (Demissie). To those who claim they aren’t addicted and claim they could easily stop vaping, it’s a shame to say that 90% of adults who smoke daily had started before they turned 18 (Kong).
What is even worse than these effects is the cause of addiction amongst adolescents. Vape companies are very obviously directing their marketing to lure in teens and young adults into trying these e-cigarettes. Many vape companies often advertise their products on social media, which teenagers use. However, this isn’t the only factor that makes it obvious that these companies are trying to bait teenagers into a lifetime of addiction. It’s also the bright, colorful, aesthetic look of vapes, as well as the many childish flavors that are being offered increasingly by vape companies. For example, Falcon, a major vape company, has a flavor called “Unicorn Rainbow” with pink and white marbled packaging. If that isn’t being marketed towards a younger audience, then I do not know what is. These types of childish flavors are concerning because what the majority of adolescents look for in a vape is its flavor (Onojighofia). These large corporations who are run by fully matured adults are exploiting and baiting children into living a life of addiction and facing severe health consequences in the future, all so they can make money.
Apparently, lawmakers are doing what they can to ban the importation of e-cigarettes from China (Perrone and The Associated Press). However, as of January 2024, this ban hasn’t been imposed. The only thing lawmakers have done to prevent vape-use in teenagers is enforce harsher regulations and only allow a few companies to sell their tobacco products. Due to this, the US has seen a 4% drop in vape usage among adolescents. This sadly isn’t much, as there are still 2.1 million students who vape, which most likely doesn’t even capture close to the true number of student vapers in the US (Perrone and The Associated Press).
It’s heartbreaking, seeing a generation of young adults and teens destroy their bodies in a way that will be hard to recover from. The US already doesn’t have the best resources for people who are trying to recover from addiction, so there’s going to be a long road ahead for teens now who hope to recover in the future. In this era of consumer culture and mass advertising, it’s harder than ever to avoid these addicting substances. In order to attack this vaping epidemic, it could be that this generation has to face a greater challenge of attacking the influence social media has over the population. Social media influence won’t be fading away for quite some time. So, perhaps it would be better to push educated voices out and spread awareness about the danger and exploits of vaping and e-cigarettes for the protection of future generations to come.
Demissie, Zewditu. “Adolescent Risk Behaviors and Use of Electronic Vapor Products and Cigarettes.” AAP Publications, Feb. 2017, https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/139/2/e20162921/60303/Adolescent-Risk-Behaviors-and-Use-of-Electronic.
“FALCON FC7000 UNICORN RAINBOW DISPOSABLE DEVICE.” Falcon Vape, https://falconvape.com/products/falcon-fc7000-unicorn-rainbow-disposable-device. Accessed 5 Feb. 2024.
Kong, Grace. “A Call to End the Epidemic of Adolescent E-Cigarette Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 174, May 2017, pp. 215–21, doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.03.001.
Onojighofia, Tobore. “On the Potential Harmful Effects of E-Cigarettes (EC) on the Developing Brain: The Relationship between Vaping-Induced Oxidative Stress and Adolescent/Young Adults Social Maladjustment.” Journal of Adolescence, vol. 76, Oct. 2019, pp. 202–09, doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2019.09.004.
Perrone, Matthew and The Associated Press. “U.S. Lawmakers Tried Banning Elf Bar and Other e-Cigarettes Imported from China—It Didn’t Work, and Now They’re Trying Again.” Fortune, 8 Dec. 2023, https://fortune.com/2023/12/08/us-ban-elf-bar-ecigarettes-vape-china/.