Exploring the Exploding E-Cigarette Epidemic

By

Published November 6, 2019
A A A Share
The Montclarion
Claudine David | The Montclarion

Within the past decade, the use of electronic smoking devices has soared far beyond its traditional tobacco counterpart.

Along with this new trend came a lot of controversies like its advertisements being targeted at underage users, multiple city bans and most recently, the growing list of fatalities related to electronic cigarettes.

A majority of people impacted by this e-cigarette epidemic are teens and college-aged students, many of whom are very familiar with these devices, but not the negative effects hidden within the warning labels. These negative effects are responsible for over a thousand cases of lung injuries, illnesses and now over 30 deaths, but college students still continue to vape as they please.

According to multiple sources including The Center for Disease Control (CDC), the death toll in the United States in relation to vaping has risen to 34 as of Oct. 25, one of which occurred in New Jersey last month.

One of the factors for the rapid increase in vaping fatalities is where users are getting their devices and refills from. Many young adults and teens have turned to the black market rather than licensed sellers to buy these products for its cheaper price and to bypass requirements that would prevent them from getting them legally.

What many of these young users are not aware of are the contents of these products. Many of these counterfeit devices and refills are made overseas and are smuggled into the U.S. in a way in which the CDC cannot regulate.

College students need to realize that it is not smart to purchase these kinds of products from the black market. It isn’t like buying a cheap, counterfeit pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses or a replica Gucci bag off the street in New York City. These are products you ingest into your body and a majority of them contain deadly toxins.

Just like drugs sold from the black market, a majority of these counterfeit vape products contain substances that poses harm to the human body. These fake vape products are made with THC oil, the substance found in marijuana which gets users high and vitamin E, another oily substance that can lead to a list of health risks when ingested into the lungs after it cools and returns to its greasy, liquid state. These substances have been linked to several of the mysterious vaping deaths in the U.S.

Vitamin E is not dangerous and is found in many of the foods we eat. The difference is how it enters the body. When ingested into the lungs, the now liquidized vitamin E stays in the lungs, making it harder to breathe and can cause chest pains. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia.

Students at Montclair State University hold vastly different opinions on the e-cigarette epidemic despite the growing number of deaths. However, many of their views have drastically shifted on the subject.

Last year, The Montclarion did an investigation on students knowledge of the popular e-cigarette brand Juul called “Juul: The Flavored Flash Drive Frenzy.” As a part of the project, 50 students at Montclair State were randomly selected to participate in a survey.

This year, The Montclarion was able to get over 200 student responses using the same survey on social media.

 

Consistent with last year’s survey, almost every participant knew what Juul was. A major difference was the split between students who believe Juul is better for your health than traditional cigarettes. With the recent news regarding vaping related illnesses, almost 50% of the students who participated still think that e-cigarettes are better. A majority of the participants are also aware that one Juul pod is the equivalent of 20 cigarettes.

If handled properly, vapes can be better. But in order to stop the rise of fatalities, people need to know where they are getting their products from and what exactly they are putting into their bodies.

The best way to prevent more fatalities from occurring is for students to stop getting their products illegally. People are more likely to choose affordability over their health, but when dealing with substances that have proven to be deadly, it is a decision that desperately requires a second thought.

Join the Conversation