There is an epidemic that is extremely concerning that is directly affecting the youth both in our local communities and in communities nationwide. This is the epidemic of vaping. This is a hot button issue that receives very little attention because it is such a new trend. It is a silent menace that will lead to the downfall of many adolescents and adults all throughout our nation. Due to the sharp spike of vaping and the use of e-cigarettes by students, eventually it gripped the attention of the United States Health and Human Services.
The rapid expansion of this new trend was identified as by the U.S. surgeon general in a 2015 report as a public health emergency. The report claimed that there was a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by students in high school from 2011 to 2016. As it pertains to middle school students, the number was 500,000.
Now in order to understand this epidemic, it is best to begin on broad words. When a student vapes, they inhale vapor that is created from a liquid that is heated up inside the device. There is a wide variety of names for these devices. The names include e-cigarettes, vape pens, e-hookahs and tanks, to name a few. The liquid inside these devices have many names – they might be called e-juice, e-liquids or pods. Most of these contain glycerol as a base and nicotine or other flavoring chemicals that are similar to regular flavors like mint. The devices depend on battery power to heat the elements made of numerous materials that releases the liquid into the air.
There are many health effects that come as a result of vaping. It has severe effects on the lungs. It causes rapid, shallow breathing, permanent lung damage, and a higher risk of lung disease and even lung cancer. Some e-cigs have been found to contain diacetyl, a flavoring agent linked to lung disease. It also significantly affects the heart. A person’s heart rate and blood pressure goes up, making the heart work way harder to transport oxygen to the cells and producing more blood. In the long term, this leads to increase in heart attacks and even strokes.
This is a new fad that has numerous ways that it affects the health of students. This is why I as a student representative to the Kingsland School Board have brought this issue up. This is something that many students are addicted to and it eventually leads to their grades dropping, their standardized test scores lowered, and overall motivation to do well is destroyed.
This in my opinion as a student is a national health crisis. It is leading students down a path of hostility, disobedience and eventually failure in the future. This is also a crisis that people at the local, state and federal levels must realize will destroy the very work ethic that made America great. I call on all to fight this epidemic. This is a matter of whether or not the youth can take the mantle for the future.
Zachary Queensland is a student at Kingsland High School. He is one of eight area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 20th year.