Vape Nation: The Last Crusade

Connor Casne-Jones, Head Editor

It has been 632 days since my first article on vaping, Vape Nation. Since then I have grown from an innocent little sophomore, into a grizzled, hardened Senior, and I am now ready to finish the trilogy that is Vape Nation.

Early in my high school career, vaping was contained to the large, cloud-producing box mods. Then came the small, high-nicotine, pod-based systems. some examples of this include the Juul, Sourin, Smok novo or infinity x, and NJoy. These devices deliver much more nicotine then box mods and produce less of a cloud. Due to the discrete nature of these devices some bold student began to rip these in classrooms and other areas at schools.

 In September of 2018 U.S. Health Officials declared teen vaping an epidemic, and now many states have instituted a complete ban on all flavored vaping products. Many people believe these companies are targeting kids, therefore the FDA is working on a nationwide ban on flavored vaping. How did vaping go from something that was believed to be harmless to public enemy number 1?

On August 23rd in Illinois vaping claimed its first victim. The victim, who remains unnamed, was checked into the hospital for severe difficulties breathing, and unfortunately passed away. He was using a vape to consume nicotine. This marked a turning point in vaping’s public reception; it went from harmless to deadly in hours. Now in late October vaping’s body count has risen to 35, with over 1600 cases of illness due to vaping. However, it is important to note, vaping is no longer contained to just nicotine. THC vape products have taken the world by storm and are arguably more deadly than their nicotine counterpart. According to the available data on 860 patients hospitalized by vaping, 85% used THC vaping products. Many said that they bought their THC Vape products illegally off the black market or from a friend. The unregulated nature of this industry lead to cartridges being cut with all kinds of substances in order to maximize profit. One common cutting substance is vitamin E oil, which is actually healthy when put on skin or eaten, but is potentially deadly when inhaled. 

Once considered a safer alternative to cigarettes, Vaping is now known to be very dangerous. But has vaping’s apparent risk stopped teens from indulging. Assistant Principal Kessler said, “I wouldn’t say it’s going down… we still have our fair share of kids we catch that are in possession of a vape or the juice.” Kessler added, “ It’s something students say everybody’s doing and some students feel left out if they don’t vape.” According to Mr. Kessler, he’s already had 5 vape-related incidents this year. Helena Middle School now also has a vaping problem, as the age kids vape continues to get lower. 

Teens continue to vape despite serious health risks, Why? One Helena High student who asked to remain anonymous said, “I’ve done it for more than a year now. If I’m going to die from vaping, the damage is already done. So why would I stop.” The fact is that these teens are addicted to nicotine, and like any nicotine addict, the only way they can quit is if they really want to. Unfortunately, most teen vapers don’t want to quit. As a country we are taking steps in the right direction with the flavored vape ban. We can only pray that it works.