FDA Declares Youth Vaping An Epidemic

By Brayden Cox | Reporter

It’s his lunch period. He and his friends met in the bathroom by the ALC cafe. One of them kept a lookout while they all took hits from their Vape or Juul, quickly waving away the smoke, hearts racing as they hoped they wouldn’t get caught.

With the prevalence of vaping on the rise, this same scene is the sight across many high schools in America. According to one study, sales of vapes, Juuls, E-cigarettes and other ENDS, defined as noncombustible tobacco products, will out sell all other tobacco products by 2023.

On Sept. 12, the FDA declared teen vaping an epidemic. According to the FDA, more than 2 million high school students were users in 2017.

“The reason it is so popular is because it actually tastes nice, and has become the cool thing to do,” an anonymous Avon High School senior said. “Unlike actual cigarettes, which do not taste nice and are not the in thing to do.”

The topic of taste comes up a lot concerning the difference between cigarettes and all other ENDS. This anonymous senior believes that the social aspect of it all, and the fact that it is much easier to hide, has a lot to do with its popularity.

Agreeing with this sentiment, Assistant Principal Frank Meyer said the vapes that are out now — especially ones that look like pencils or flash drives — are really easy to hide. Compounding the issue for administrators is the fact that the vapor produced is much less noticeable than traditional cigarettes.

“My perception of the situation is that it doesn’t leave an unfavorable smell like traditional cigarettes. They are far easier to hide, and the ‘vapor’ dissipates far quicker than cigarettes,” said Mr. Meyer.

These statements are backed up by a survey done in 2013 and 2014 by the FDA. According to the survey, 81 percent of current youth users cited the availability of appealing flavors as the primary reason for use.

Following its “epidemic” declaration, the FDA is giving companies that sell these products just 60 days to send in “robust” plans to prevent teen vaping. If their plans do not go far enough, their products could be taken off of the shelves.

“I don’t think that’s fair to these companies, it should be at least six months,” said the anonymous senior. “I think that because these companies are people’s livelihoods and how they feed their families.”

However, not everyone feels this way.

“I think it’s completely fair,” said Mr. Meyer. “It forces these companies to take a look at how they are going about running their businesses. Some companies might even try to challenge the FDA and they’ll fail.”

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