By Abigail Farrer—
Walk through a crowded place where teenagers hang out, and chances are high that you’ll also walk through what looks like a cloud of smoke that smells like cotton candy or blue raspberry.
This cloud of “smoke” is in fact water vapor emitted by a Juul or vape. A Juul is a small, rectangular vape that has large amounts of nicotine in the pods, which are changed when the juice within them runs out.
Many adults do not understand teenagers’ fascination with these objects that often lead to addiction.
Dr. Mallory Young, Regents Professor of English at Tarleton, said she thinks students do it as a form of societal conformity.
“I suspect it’s just what it’s always been: to fit in, to feel more confident, to look cool,” Young explained.
Haley Smith, a senior general studies major, agreed.
“They don’t see it as doing something negative. They do it to fit in and do it for the rush. Once they tried it, they liked the rush the nicotine gave them,” Smith said.
E-cigs can range in price from $30 to $40 for “starter packs,” to $100 to $200 for higher-end vape options. Rather than saving money, students are using paychecks to fuel a nicotine addiction.
Savannah Harrington, a freshman agricultural industries and agencies major, said she thinks the devices should be harder for young people to obtain since they have not been around for very long.
“We haven’t had these around long enough to determine the long-term effects on people and their health,” Harrington said.
Harrington also has strong thoughts on the ideas of spreading germs.
“I just feel like people need to be more considerate of others,” she said. “One, people could be allergic or sensitive to the vapors, and two, I don’t want that nasty stuff blowing in my face because it’s really gross. In this world today, people are just inconsiderate.”
The germs not only affect people in the nearby vicinity, but also the people using the devices. An article from theconversation.com reported that e-cigarette devices weaken the immune system, similar to that of cigarettes, and can cause bacteria within the vapor to act aggressively toward the host immune system.
According to migvapor.com, people begin vaping for several reasons, such as cloud-chasing, which is a competitive sport. These are competitions in which self-proclaimed “professional vapers” compete to see who can perform the most impressive tricks. Some people also use them for medicinal and relaxation purposes, as there are special oils that can be put in some of the devices that are used medicinally.
“I’ve never seen an ad for them,” Smith said. “Initially, it was for people who were trying to quit cigarettes who still needed the nicotine. Then it escalated to other people who didn’t need it for that. It’s self-advertisement. You see someone else using one and you want to do it too because it looks cool and then the cycle continues.”
Some who vape began using the devices in their late teens.
“It starts in high school for sure,” Harrington said. “Kids tried to hide it in high school, like smoking in the bathrooms, but the problem definitely started there. They do it because their friends do it and they want to look cool.”
Smith, however, disagreed that that the habit always starts in high school.
“You’re able to do it more openly in college than in high school. There’s no need to hide it when you don’t live at home,” Smith said.
A study conducted in the U.S “suggests that e-cigarettes may actually encourage cigarette smoking in adolescents.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also begun regulating the devices and said that “to protect the health of young Americans, minors can no longer buy e-cigarettes in stores or online.”