Back in the 20th century, smoking cigarettes was a part of the culture, but no one knew how dangerous they were. Then the truth came out about cigarettes—they cause diseases such as lung cancer. Recently, there have been new ways to get nicotine, but in a liquid form. Vaping originated to reduce cigarette use, to wean people off of nicotine. The most popular forms of vaping are Juuls, Sourins, and Phixes. Anyone over 18 can buy these vaping devices, but hardly difficult to obtain for younger fiends.
E-cigarettes are a substitute for cigarettes. They can be purchased easily online. By simply checking a box that says “I’m older than 18,” underage people are able to access e-cig websites. In April, the FDA started an undercover investigation targeting retailers that sell juul products. However, tobacco companies also advertise by targeting younger generations, often introducing flavored nicotine cartridges. These fun fruity flavors in colored packaging entice people, especially under the age of 21. This new form of getting nicotine in the body has captivated high schoolers across the nation, impacting high schools like Terra Linda.
While Vaping is frequently thought to be less detrimental to your health than cigarettes, they can cause a disease known as popcorn lung. Popcorn lung is the a scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs resulting in the thickening and narrowing of the airways. This disease causes coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. A chemical that flavors e-cigarettes called diacetyl causes popcorn lung. Diacetyl was first discovered in microwave popcorn factories decades ago, until it was recalled. Many cases of bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious and irreversible lung disease, emerged because of this chemical. Now, years later, diacetyl is used to flavor nicotine devices. Other chemicals found in Juuls include lead, nickel, tin, and other heavy metals. According to the Office of US Surgeon General, youth and vaping don’t mix well. Vaping causes harm on a developing brain.
Vaping is the most popular method of getting nicotine in the human body among teenagers, and with other vaping methods on the rise, nicotine is easier to get addicted to than ever. When children vape, the nicotine rewires the brain to constantly crave it. This is an incredibly pressing issue as three anonymous students from TL come forward to share about their nicotine addictions.
The first student interviewed has been juuling since summer 2017. She first tried it when her boyfriend offered her a hit from his juul. After using his, she bought her own juul. Anonymous chose not to share how she bought the nicotine device. She explained, “I started only once a day, but I began to vape pretty often.” She said she became addicted to nicotine. The student began to purchase other nicotine devices like Soriens, Boutons, and Fixes. Anonymous states, “If I don’t have nicotine in my system for five or more days, my arms start to break out and I have panic attacks.” She goes on to say she goes through one pod everyday. A pod is the cartridge filled with the flavored liquid nicotine. The nicotine level in one pod is equivalent to that of one pack of cigarettes. If stressed, she goes through two pods a day. Anonymous is trying to stop vaping but it’s difficult because she’s “grown very dependent” on nicotine.
The second person interviewed sells nicotine devices to fellow students. Anonymous started vaping in seventh grade using his mom’s vape pen. “After a month or two of using it I became addicted…then in eighth grade, I started to buy things using my mom’s card…I started to sell them.” He admits he has been addicted to nicotine for a number of years. He claims he’s tried to quit many times in the past, but couldn’t because his craving was too strong. If he doesn’t have nicotine in his system he starts to get jumpy and it’s the only thing he can think about. Anonymous normally charges thirty dollars for a box of three pods or carts. A box of pods normally costs 27 dollars. He charges five dollars to refill a pod, and 50 dollars for a juul or any other nicotine device. He explained he wants to quit selling them to his peers, but he likes having the money for himself.
The last person interviewed has also chosen to be anonymous as well. She started juuling in freshman year and is now a sophomore. Anonymous bought herself a juul after her friend told her about the headrush she got, then she bought herself a phix. Anonymous stated that “I bought the juul off of someone and I always got domed” (a term to describe the headrush). “Then I got a phix because I wanted something stronger.” She claims when she first started, she got quickly addicted. However, after using her phix for a couple of months she realized she had a problem after a friend mentioned she had been going through a pod every day for a month.
Just like the students who agreed to be interviewed, students all around Terra Linda have an addiction to nicotine. Some students can’t admit they have a problem because they think “they can quit whenever they want.” Vaping is just as addicting as cigarettes and nicotine addiction is still a real problem in the twenty-first century.