The case against vaping


Ayomi Wolfe

Saige Gootman

Wilson students think vaping is harmless, but a growing body of evidence suggests vaping has dangerous mental, physical, and emotional effects. Over 800 cases of rare vaping-related lung diseases, as well as 12 deaths, have been confirmed this month by the Center for Disease Control, which also found that 16 percent of the victims were under age 18.

These numbers don’t even include more common problems, such as the incurable “popcorn lung,” where certain pod flavoring chemicals scar airways and cause permanent shortness of breath, wheezing, or fatigue, like constant asthma.

The chance of getting sick from inhaling chemicals seems minor compared to what the spiked nicotine levels in vaping are doing to young brains. Despite the fact that one Juul pod is equivalent to smoking a full pack of cigarettes, a survey last year found that nearly two-thirds of youth vapers don’t even know it contains nicotine.

Our mental health at risk. For decades, researchers have found a correlation between depression and nicotine use. Depression is a result of the immensely complicated chemical balance in our brains being thrown out of whack, and nicotine directly contributes to this imbalance by triggering dopamine to be released too frequently. The more a person vapes, the more likely they are to become depressed.

Our ability to think is at risk. Nicotine use during youth impairs how well our brains can form or rewire connections, damaging our memory, attention span, and capacity to learn. It impacts the part of our brains responsible for strategy, decision-making, and self-control.

Our empowerment is at risk. Youth are much more susceptible to nicotine addiction. The release of dopamine, induced by vaping, leads to a pleasure response in the brain, and the new semi-constant flow of dopamine establishes dependency that the body cannot meet on its own. This is what causes “withdrawal” and the body’s responses to missing its nicotine-induced dopamine. The brain is chemically altered, with no guarantee that the user will ever feel normal again.

Those who vape and believe that they will not get addicted are naïve. Addiction is not voluntary. Depression is not voluntary. Fourteen-year-olds should not need to take bathroom breaks just so they can get their nicotine fix.

Youth who actively make the decision to stay away from vaping, notwithstanding intense peer pressure, are often doing it because they don’t want to end up in a hospital bed. They want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. They want brains that work.

Juul is exploiting our health for its profit. We are paying to get sick. In mango, mint, cucumber, and creme, Juul sells us a drug that can cause anxiety, depression, lung diseases, and even death. Not every single person who vapes will experience these effects, but if there’s a chance, why take the risk?

Ultimately, the choice is up to each individual to make. My choice is no.