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Nicotine No More: Teens Use of E-Cigs on the Rise

Dylan Douglas, Staff Writer

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In September, Dr. Herr sent home a letter regarding the dangers of using E-cigarettes, or vapes as they’re commonly referred to as.  In October, Senator Chuck E. Schumer urged the federal government to reverse the decision to postpone the regulation of e-cigarettes. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20 percent (1 out of 5) of NY high school students said they had vaped, which is higher than the national average of 11.3 percent of high school students nationwide in 2016.

The severity of danger of using E-cigarettes is still trying to be determined because they’re fairly new to the market. Yes, using a vape is a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, because harmful carcinogens such as carbon monoxide or tar, are found in common cigarette smoke.

But the the real question is, “Will using a vape increase your odds of smoking cigarettes?” And the answer to the question- among adolescents- is yes, according to Science Daily.

An e-cigarette is a battery powered devices that deliver nicotine and flavoring without actually burning tobacco. In most e-cigarettes, inhaling activates the battery powered heating, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge creating a vapor. This is why it is referred to as “vaping.”

Nicotine increases the levels of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Your brain releases dopamine when you experience something pleasurable like food, your favorite activity, or spending time with friends. It also causes your adrenal glands to release a hormone called adrenaline.  This increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. When the feeling goes away, you want to feel that way again, which is what leads to addiction.

But, contrary to popular belief, most of the harm done to your body is not from nicotine, but from other chemicals that are activated when you burn tobacco. That doesn’t mean that vaping is safe though, according to teens.drugabuse.gov close to 30 chemicals in smokeless tobacco have been found to cause cancer. People who use vapes are also at risk for oral cancers, heart disease, and gum disease.

Most of the students I interviewed not want to comment on the topic because they were afraid of getting in trouble.  The punishment for possessing a vape in school is up to five days of out of school suspension.  Some said they would talk to me if their names were not included in the article.

When asked if they used nicotine prior to using a vape (ex. cigarettes, chewing tobacco), three of the five students I asked said they had not, which I followed up with the simple question, “Why are you using one if you did not regularly use nicotine prior to vaping?”

One senior said, “I saw a lot of my friends using them, I was curious as to what it was and what it did to you.”

“Why do you think that kids are vaping but they won’t smoke cigarettes?” I asked.

“There is just such a negative view on smoking now that there is so much proof as to how bad it is for you.” He was surprised when I told him that there were more than 30 cancer causing chemicals found in some vape cartridges.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. One in every five deaths, 1,300 deaths every day, and 16 million people suffer with a serious illness caused by smoking. For every one person that dies from tobacco, thirty people suffer from a tobacco related disease or illness.

So the next time you go to hit that Juul, or the Bo, just remember, there’s a reason they’re illegal for those under 21 in New York.

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Nicotine No More: Teens Use of E-Cigs on the Rise