August 10, 2023 opinion

Are vapes truly safe alternatives to cigarettes?

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Isaaq Hussain in Oxford, United Kingdom

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Picture by: Lindsay Fox | Flickr

As a British teenager, I feel that I am constantly exposed to flashy and colourful images of e-cigarettes which is a new way to get young people addicted to nicotine

This trend doesn’t seem to be dying down, as new flavours seem to be coming out every week which lures my age group into using these unhealthy cigarette alternatives. This partly might be because they are seduced by the lack of smoke that is produced. One study reported how in 2021, ‘74% of students who used social media had seen e-cigarette–related posts or content.’

Every time, I see a boy or girl the same age as me being manipulated into this, whether at school or out in public, I find myself uncomfortable. Not only is buying e-cigarettes illegal for people under 18 but it’s deeply frustrating to see that this has become today’s social norm.

E-cigarettes – considered a “far less harmful” alternative to cigarettes – can still cause nicotine addiction and teenagers who vape will then have an increased likelihood of smoking cigarettes.

Though some vape product labels do not disclose that they contain nicotine other vape liquids marketed as holding 0% nicotine were found to have still contained nicotine.

Scientists have shown how nicotine can harm the adolescent brain which keeps developing until about the age of 25. This can include difficulties with concentration, learning, mood, and controlling impulses.

The fluid in e-cigarettes may even potentially cause life-threatening lung inflammation in those who are susceptible, warned doctors in the Archives of Disease in Childhood after treating a teenage boy with respiratory failure linked to vaping.

Meanwhile, surveys show that vaping among secondary-school students is on the rise, with nearly one in five 15-year-olds using e-cigarettes in 2021.

These numbers are really concerning as they show how easy it is to get your hands on a vape, despite being underage.

In 2023, Dr Mike McKean, vice-president of policy for the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, said that vaping was becoming an “epidemic” in the UK among teenagers.

Part of the reason for the high numbers of vape-users is that vaping liquid, known as vaping juice, comes in many flavours and unsurprisingly in 2020 the most popular juices for adolescents (ages 12 to 17) and young adults (18 to 24) are fruit (73%), mint (56%) and menthol (37%). And all these flavours are strongly associated with sweets as a gateway for the youth.

I think that vaping is becoming one of the most concerning problems for my generation and the only solution can be if the government takes action by frequently monitoring vape manufacturers and getting rid of colourful packaging resembling sweet flavours.

But will the UK government be smart enough to follow these steps?

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Isaaq Hussain

Sports Correspondent

United Kingdom

Born in 2007, Isaaq is interested in football and English Literature. He plans to study Physical Education and Sports Journalism.

In his free time, Isaaq enjoys playing sports, reading, and watching TV shows.

Isaaq speaks English and is learning German.

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