What is the “Vape Disease,” and What Does It Mean for Generation-Z?

By now, everybody has heard about the new, inexplicable “vaping disease.”  Over 1,000 cases have been reported in 48 states and one U.S. territory, and eighteen deaths have been confirmed. Medical professionals are unsure of what specifically is causing this rapidly-spreading infection, but they have tested hypotheses regarding vitamin-E acetate buildup and the possible dangers of THC-containing products. One fear is that the cause of this illness is the tampering of E-cigarette products by suppliers and sellers, which raises issues of the possible presence of life-threatening and illicit substances in vaping products. 

However, the fact that many people find disturbing is that the majority of victims (80 percent, in fact) are under the age of 35, and approximately 16 percent of people affected are under 18.

The relatively recent introduction of vape products to the national market has proven to be detrimental to the health of young people. Growing up, our generation was bombarded with adults and commercials on Nickelodeon preaching about the dangers of cigarettes. We were forced to watch commercials featuring teenagers pulling out their teeth or ripping off their skin in exchange for a pack of Marlboro Reds as we waited patiently for Spongebob Squarepants to come back on. The push against big tobacco in the 1990’s leached into our mindsets, convincing us of the dangers of nicotine. However, when vaping became a thing only a few years ago, it was branded as “safer” than cigarettes. Many people heard safer and just thought safe. The years of anti-nicotine brainwashing that we endured had been unraveled with only one word. Products such as Juuls proved easy for kids to purchase and conceal, causing a dramatic increase in youths’ use of and ultimate addiction to nicotine products. 

So, what does this mean for our generation, one that, before vaping was a thing, was unlikely to start smoking? And where do we go from here?

Nicotine addiction and THC-containing vape products have creeped into our generation’s life, but in the light of new discoveries about the dangers of E-cigarettes, many youths are vowing to quit vaping. Will kids be more likely to switch back to conventional smoking to avoid the dangers of vape products, or have we retained the lessons from prior generations about the ills of doing so? Hopefully, recent events, such as the incurable vape infection and Massachussett’s ban on the sale of vaping products, will stop this issue dead in its tracks before more kids and teenagers are subjected to the dangers of addiction.

Source: “Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping” from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Lily Morgan

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