Every teen today grew up hearing “never smoke, you will get cancer.” But no one grew up hearing “do not vape, you will get cancer.” That is because vaping education is behind the times because no one truly understands it and schools do not have the resources or knowledge to tell teenagers what vaping is and what dangers might be present with it.
Older adults (primarily parents) are concerned about vaping, certainly, but teens are generally not concerned because they view it as less harmful than smoking—despite the presence of nicotine. In fact, vaping is marketed to teens in design, it looks fashionable and “hip” for lack of a better term. When you go into a gas station, vape pens look like they were made with teens in mind.
The Monitoring the Future report from the University of Michigan and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) confirms vaping is not merely a fad—in 2017 11% of 12th-grade students reported vaping nicotine in the past 30 days, and in 2018, that number rose to 21%. To put that into an even more alarming number, that means one in five 12th grade students have vaped nicotine in the last 30 days. It is the largest jump in adolescents that Monitoring the Future has ever seen—and that’s including alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
But it is not all bad news. What this means is parents and educators need to seriously research the risks of vaping so that they can inform their children about what this can do to their bodies. Anything with nicotine can have adverse effects, even if it is not a cigarette. The fact that what vaping does is not well studied is perhaps even more of a reason to stay away from it.
One of the main issues with vaping is peer pressure, which, to be fair, is an issue with drugs and alcohol with teens in general. But with vaping it seems so harmless—the name itself sounds very innocent. It has not yet gotten the reputation cigarettes have and unfortunately that is the main issue. It looks like a safe alternative. Kids who want to fit in might view it as a good alternative to something more “drastic” like marijuana or harder drugs.
But since vaping contains nicotine, it is an addictive substance, just like any drug. The more prominent it becomes in schools, the more dangerous it is.