Ms. Rayona Silverman
HINESBURG VT– Over the past year, there has been a drastic rise in the number of students who are vaping on school grounds, as a result of the new phenomenon known as the ‘Juul.’
Taking hits on the bus, taking drags in the bathrooms; these are now common phrases used around CVU when referencing where vaping occurs. Unlike smoking cigarettes, vaping flavors range from neutral to bubble gum, cremes, and cucumber. As a result, teens are intrigued.
“When people see others doing something, they are naturally curious. There is this internal pressure with wanting to fit in within social groups,” said Tim Trevithick, Student’s Assistance Program Counselor at CVU. “This trend has come on extremely fast and hits all of the social groups. I don’t see the trend dying down anytime soon at the moment.”
Trevithick mentioned that it is difficult to gather specific data on just how many high school students are currently vaping or have vaped in the past. “Current data does not represent correctly what is happening now, as it is such a fast trend.” Trevithick voiced his concern regarding long term effects, mentioning the lack of studies that have been done and the lengthy time period that is required to gather evidence.
Recently, Trevithick, alongside several students at CVU, has started to take action against vaping, putting up posters in bathrooms, on doors, and around the school, voicing their concerns about the health effects.
The posters were torn down relatively fast. “People don’t like seeing something that their doing,” Trevithick pointed out. “Vapes are not benign. Juuls are not benign. There’s a lot of crap in them.”
Technically, vaping is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 in the United States, and in some states, 21. As stated in an article written by Jim Hyde, from Charlotte, “Vapers are inhaling a nicotine-laced vapor, or aerosol, produced by a battery-powered heating element immersed in a liquid, hence the generic term: e-cigarette. Juuls are simply one of the more popular brands of these devices, holding about 45% of the e-cigarette market.” Although they don’t release the same smoke as cigarettes, Juuls still hold many dangerous chemicals and ingredients that can deteriorate health.
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids stated in a pamphlet the effects that nicotine has on the brain, especially the youth brain, as it is still developing until the late 20’s. “Nicotine is a stimulant that activates the nervous system to prepare the body for physical and mental activity. Nicotine can be highly addictive. Nicotine use may rewire the brain, making it easier to get hooked on other substances and contribute to problems with concentration, learning, and impulse control.” As a result, teens, especially with developing brains, can suffer severely from the effects of using nicotine-based substances.
Recently, Altria, a tobacco company, took 35% stake in Juul, raising concern that the FDA won’t be able to crack down on youth users. Although the starter kit isn’t cheap, usually retailing at $49.99, teens who are underage have been able to get their hands on the devices and pods through friends and sellers. “Our intent was never to have youth use Juul products. But intent is not enough, the numbers are what matter, and the numbers tell us underage use of e-cigarette products is a problem. We must solve it,” Juul CEO Kevin Burns said in a statement.
The marketing side may tell a different story. As written in a New York Times Article by Kevin Roose, Columnist for Business Day, “Few of the company’s early ads made any mention of cigarettes’ risks, or advocated for smokers to switch; most were focused on playing up vaping’s cool factor. As recently as 2017, the front page of the company’s website said nothing about switching from cigarettes at all, only that the Juul offered an “intensely satisfying vapor experience.” This type of advertisement can be deceiving, often drawing in crowds from younger ages due to technology and social media uses.
Trevithick concluded the interview by mentioning the effects of nicotine on the brain. “Kids get this head rush and feel good when they use the Juul. This feeling causes the repeated use of the product. It’s such an easy thing to get addicted to. It’s tough… with substances that are routine in your life, it’s really difficult to stop.”