posted on: Thursday October 24, 2019
by Marie Sweeney ’20
In the past few years, vaping and Juuling have become increasingly popular on college campuses across the U.S. However, recently there have been reports of illness, intense addiction, irreversible health damage, and even death associated with the use of vapes and Juuls. In the wake of this Juuling epidemic, the Providence College community needs to take these health risks seriously and work together to eliminate vape use among PC students.
Although electronic cigarettes came to the market in the U.S. in 2007, mostly targeting cigarette addicts, their popularity increased dramatically among adolescents in 2015 with the introduction of the Juul. Even though they claim to have not been targeting a younger generation, the creation of flavored pods and the accessibility of the Juul itself was very attractive to a younger audience.
Originally, people saw vaping as a “healthier” way to get an adrenaline rush as opposed to a traditional cigarette; however, many people fail to see the dangerous health effects of vaping and Juuling.
One of the major risks of casual vaping is a very intense nicotine addiction. Dr. Suzanne Bornschein, M.D., staff physician at PC, states, “The nicotine in the form of the [Juul] pods has less of a throat hit so it can be a much stronger dose of nicotine than a traditional cigarette; an average pod has the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes.” Due to this, addiction to a Juul develops much faster than addiction to cigarettes and is much more difficult to quit. According to Dr. Bornschein, it can take just one to two months of Juuling to become addicted to a pod a day.
However, nicotine addiction is the least of the concerns compared to the other health risks associated with vaping. When inhaling a vape, there are various amounts of chemicals that may enter the body such as propylene glycol, glycerin, diacetyl, and more which can have negative and unknown effects when inhaled directly into the lungs.
Vaping has led to so many shocking health issues around the U.S. that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created the term EVALI, or E-Cigarette Vaping Associated Lung Injury, to label these ailments. These illnesses can range from negative gastrointestinal symptoms to respiratory issues and can even lead to death. The most recent data shows that there are at least 33 confirmed deaths associated with EVALI.
These issues can happen to someone who is just a casual user of a vaping product. Dr. Bornschein states, “Of the 1500 current confirmed cases, it looks like most of them have [vaped] within the week prior to admission. Not everyone is a daily user.”
Furthermore, nicotine causes more issues than just addiction. According to Dr. Bornschein, long-term nicotine use can rewire the brain, decrease concentration, increase anxiety and depression, affect the reproductive system and immune system, and more.
The scariest part of this intense vape use is the uncertainty regarding the health risks and what causes them. There is also uncertainty in regards to future health implications that can occur due to vape use at a young age in terms of brain development. At this stage of life, teenagers’ brains are still developing, and vaping can have a negative impact. The CDC is trying their best to understand what causes EVALI or other issues that result from vaping, but at the moment a lot is unknown.
However, a lot of students on campus hear the frightening risks of vaping but refuse to believe it can happen to them. Even with the deaths that have occurred, Juuling is still very prevalent on and off of PC’s campus.
“It kind of came out of nowhere. Juuls went from being known as this very simple and safe form of smoking to literally killing people,’’ states Elizabeth Connor ‘20.
Now that more is known of the risks associated with vaping, the PC community needs to come together to discourage Juul use and create awareness of the harmful risks before one of our own becomes a victim of EVALI.
Dr. Bornschein encourages students to avoid Juuling at all costs and to take the necessary efforts to quit. The health center offers several options and resources to help users quit and to prevent further harm to one’s body. At this point, the adrenaline rush, the positive feelings, and the social aspect are just not worth permanent bodily harm that can occur with vape use. It is an activity that should be discouraged on campus to ensure good health for all.