The Impact of Vaping on Young People

13 min read
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Jan 16, 2024
The Impact of Vaping on Young People
The Impact of Vaping on Young People
You can report the illicit sale of vaping products to minors under the age of eighteen by calling the Trading Standards Agency (UK) at 0808 223 1133, visiting their website, or filling out their online report form.
Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, created the first popular electronic cigarette in 2003. This was made with the intention of helping individuals quit smoking actual cigarettes by offering a safe substitute. This invention was motivated by the urge to end unnecessary deaths, having been influenced by his father's death from lung cancer. As such, it has its roots firmly planted in the realm of good intentions.
Hon Lik's invention was a battery-operated heating element that turned a liquid nicotine solution into vapor. Sometimes called "vape juice," this substance is breathed by the user and was once thought to be a safer option than regular tobacco cigarettes by many.
But with the 'vaping' fad getting out of control, it has become popular among smokers and non-smokers in recent years. Given how many individuals use them, particularly teenagers, there is a greater risk when considering the long-term health effects that are unknown.
From adults lawfully obtaining the devices to teenagers obtaining them through unlawful means, vaping has emerged as one of the biggest global trends since the cigarette craze of the 1950s.
  • However, if there's a specific purpose behind its use, then why are so many individuals engaging in it?
  • How is it harmful to you if it's marketed as a better option?
  • What disputes surround this vaporizer that runs on batteries?
  • And what might the future hold?

Reasoning

From: KEDA Consulting
From: KEDA Consulting
There are a lot of reasons why people might use the vaping gadget, but none of them are really positive ones in my opinion, and they are all overshadowed by the harmful repercussions that have been thoroughly studied in the field. To start, let's examine the most apparent causes:
Smoking Cessation:
Many smokers and ex-smokers turned to vaping as a way to stop smoking regular tobacco cigarettes.
This is promoted as a less dangerous substitute that would ostensibly assist in gradually reducing their nicotine usage. Regretfully, there is currently evidence to imply that this abhorrent behavior is acting as a form of entry point for cigarettes by assisting young individuals in developing a nicotine addiction.
Perceived Lower Health Risks:
Similar to what was discussed in the section on "smoking cessation," the perceived reduced health risks associated with vaping were attributed to the absence of combustion, which is the primary source of the toxic chemicals released during smoking. However, the lack of combustion may not always occur and harmful chemicals may be implicated whether or not there is a combustion of toxic chemicals due to black market vapes, which have gained popularity for their unusual flavor variants and low prices.

Psychological Reasoning

Additionally, there are certain less evident benefits to vaping that might appeal to kids and teenagers. These are more psychological in nature and are becoming a bigger issue in the smoking community.
In my opinion, the awful impact that children are experiencing as a result of youngsters being offered unsafe and unapproved equipment in schools or corner stores has not yet been fully acknowledged. We have only touched the surface of the iceberg. The following are some possible causes:
Social Acceptance:
Teens and young adults are easily impacted by a variety of things in their lives, as we well know, and cultural norms and behaviors are one of these factors.
One of the main reasons why young people start vaping is peer pressure. A Forbes (Austin, 2023) article claims that teens have frequently been persuaded to start vaping by the social media app "TikTok" as a result of peer pressure and the need to be popular.
Teenagers who use this social networking program are frequently unaware of the negative effects it has on their behavior since it subtly manipulates their mind into thinking these behaviors are acceptable. It's called the "duel attack of social acceptance."

Societal Perceptions:

The 'TikTok' software frequently provides extremely inaccurate information to young people, who subsequently start to believe it to be true.
From erroneous political statements to outright fabrications, it is frequently our responsibility as adults to clear the air and rescue the young person's mind from the world of social media fantasy.
One of these manufactured realities that is frequently spread is the idea that, just because vapes are widely accessible, they can't necessarily be all that dangerous. Of course, cigarettes and alcohol are also widely accessible, but...
For this reason alone, over one-third of youth did not believe that vapes were harmful, according to a report published in The Guardian Newspaper (May, 2023). Youth around the world have similar ideas, despite the fact that the article specifically refers to Australia. 
Additionally, it has been argued that rather than having the intended effect of discouraging young people from vaping, these discussions about the harmful effects of the practice rather encourage more of them to start doing so.
Young people frequently opt to remain unaware of the negative consequences of these things, believing that they are "cool" or even "glamorous"—a decision for which we can undoubtedly thank the Hollywood Machine. However, the easy access to vapes frequently causes young people to forget about situations that could also be harmful to them.
Cultural Influences:
We have just touched on a few of the Hollywood Machine's detrimental impacts, including the fact that the majority of the art it produces is essentially poison for society. However, what is the primary cultural impact of vaping on youth? You guessed it—social media holds the key.

TikTok was mentioned most often as the source of online promotion (cited by 45% of children), followed by Instagram (31%) and Snapchat (22%). —  (Kirby, 2022)

A study that revealed the real effect of social media on the influence over young people to start vaping was published in an article by The Independent.
Even though it is against the law to sell to anybody under the age of 18, youngsters are shown in numerous videos reviewing the product and praising their favorite flavors. Additionally, there were targeted ads, which exacerbates the already severe situation.
Social media has undoubtedly not only contributed to the rise in youth vaping, but it has also, in my opinion, actively manipulated it to increase views for more users and increase revenue for the app itself. It appears nearly manufactured.

The Science

From: The Maze Academy
From: The Maze Academy
Most people are aware that vaping involves sucking on a pipe that is connected to a battery and contains flavor-infused water. Numerous scientific studies have indicated that not only is this obviously unhealthy for you, but that the effects are amplified if you begin earlier in life.
To begin with, nothing is known regarding the long-term health impacts. As is often the case, we are unaware of the long-term consequences and will likely discover them to be too late.
This is similar to the days when smoking cigarettes was thought to be a cure for migraine headaches or even when substances like cocaine were added to prescription drugs. Fortunately, diligent scientists and medical professionals are studying it daily to determine the true potential consequences for you.
According to several scientific and medical research, vapers are probably going to experience respiratory problems as a result of their use. The symptoms of these conditions include headaches, coughing, wheezing, influenzas, and even dyspnea.
According to a different set of studies, people who vape may be inhaling dangerous substances that are stored in their lungs and have unidentified long-term deleterious effects on their ability to breathe and general health because of the nature of the chemical compounds used to make the device.
As a result, cardiovascular health is, at best, weakened in every way.
Further research has revealed that the nicotine found in vaping products has a far more detrimental effect on a young person's brain than it does on an older one.
It stunts brain development, raises the possibility of addiction and dependence in the future, and has other detrimental effects that stem from depriving the brain of oxygen.
The term 'popcorn lung', or bronchiolitis obliterans, refers to a condition where the lungs' tiny sacks rupture and become injured, leading to the accumulation of obstructions. This is known to happen more frequently and alarmingly with vapes that include the chemical diacetyl.
Finally, vaping can potentially result in death in addition to heart-related ailments. Young people are frequently more at risk of dying from the vaping trend than those who are older, as more and more deaths related to bilateral pneumothorax, a condition in which the lungs spontaneously collapse and leave the victim, at best, "brain dead."

The Controversies

Our main focus has been on how young people are being harmed more by this trend than most other groups. An increasing number of young people are starting to vape at earlier ages, perhaps due to the influence of their social media, social circles, and the normalization of the act by society. Due to this, there have been reports of elementary school-aged youngsters stealing and selling the goods in classrooms.
Addiction in Teenagers:
Even though it is exceedingly unlawful to sell a vaping device to a person under the age of 18, that does not hinder the person in the slightest from obtaining one.
Younger and younger children are getting access to vapes and, astonishingly, becoming hooked to them. Sometimes this is done under the pretense of appearing older, sometimes by having older friends buy it for them, and most of the time without their parents' knowledge.
Reporter Kirstie Brewer of BBC Panorama discovered that a 17-year-old was so addicted to vaping that she not only had many vapes at home but also started smoking cigarettes at the age of 12 before switching to vapes at 14. (Brewer, 2023) It was worrisome to hear the young person in issue discuss the circumstances and the addiction:

She describes it as the sort of compulsion people have with their phones - picking it up without even thinking about it, and feeling jittery when it's not within reach. — BBC Panorama

To shield youth from the damaging effects of psychological addiction, we must begin to treat this with the same seriousness as we do phone addiction.
In-School Usage
The fact that many schools have invested a significant amount of money in installing alarms that detect vapes in their restrooms is one of the controversies surrounding the potential danger that comes with vaping (Bish and Moore, 2023).
The majority of the time, pupils who are addicted to their devices would use the restroom to use them without the teacher's awareness.
Students in the 1990s and 2000s frequently used the school toilet to smoke real cigarettes with the window open, which is partly why I avoided using the restroom there because it smelled so bad. This issue has existed long before the vaping fad started.
The Trajectory of Illegal Vaping
According to a top respiratory physician in the UK, vaping among young people is expected to affect nearly all children in the nation within the next five years. (Skopelli and Hall, 2023).
The fact that a lot of kids begin vaping even though they have never smoked before undermines the device's initial intent, which was established in 2003.
The fact that kids who are vaping more frequently are aware of it is the worst of all. According to Rachel De Souza, the Children's Commissioner, as reported in this Guardian article:

Children have told me they want a healthy lifestyle, and they know this is important, so we urgently need to learn lessons from the past and ensure there is tighter regulation of the vaping industry as a whole – something I’ll be looking to make the case for as we carry out more work on this issue.

Consequently, there is an industry-wide issue that is maintaining the current trend of continual upward growth. Young people and children are often aware of the negative health effects of vaping, even though the glamorization of the practice suggests that it is hip and fashionable and that social media addiction is a major contributing factor.
Women and Vaping
When it comes to the number of young women who are actively hooked to vaping, they have surpassed their male counterparts. According to an NHS survey, over 50% of 15-year-old girls acknowledged regularly using vapes, with flavors including bubblegum and pink lemonade specifically targeted towards them (Gecsoyler and Goodier, 2023).
Young women's attitudes about this trend have generally been negatively impacted by the notion that it is a stylish, popular, and frequently glamorous activity.
As a result, they have been more likely than men of the same age to indulge and develop addictions.
This has sparked a debate about the items' advertising, which claims that it is deliberately designed to undermine societal structures and the health of young women in particular while also directly aiming to follow current trends in female fashion.
Aged Nine and Under
You did indeed correctly read the subtitle. At least fifteen instances of hospital admissions for "vape-related illnesses" involving children nine years of age or less occurred between June 2023 and the end of the previous year.
Adolescents are the target audience, and it looks like colorful pens or makeup. It can cause bleeding or collapsed lungs in younger and younger people, and it is difficult to break (Birchley, 2023).
The effects on kids are typically dreadful, but nothing is being done to actively stop it from happening as more and more kids are gaining daily access to £3 or £5 products—some even selling them in their elementary schools.
The Dark Market
We've all heard of the "black market" for vaping, where illicit vape pens that contain grotesque—even more horrible than usual—chemicals are marketed. However, have you heard of the "dark market," where they are marketed throughout the day and frequently result in terrible outcomes for the adolescent purchaser?
Since one in five Scottish retailers are ready to sell vapes to minors, sting operations have typically been used to stop this from happening, although little more than a slap on the wrist has been applied (BBC News, 2023).
Because corner stores tend to have lax identity checks, under-18s are more likely to frequent them and, as a result, are more likely to get anything they want.
'Super strength' illicit vapes that are marketed to underage customers are another aspect of the underground market. This includes using more than twice the allowed amount of nicotine, and it frequently targets young people who are already dependent on drugs.
About 2,000 of them were removed from a Greater Manchester store on December 15, 2023, according to a report by the BBC. At the time, they were being prepped for sale (Jones, 2023).
Examine the following quote from the article to see the advantages of the vaporizers offered in this specific store. Multiply it by two to get an issue that affects the entire country and the world:

It was discovered that one store had a covert area beneath shelves that could be unlocked by pressing a concealed lever. There were six times the legal amount of vapes inside.

Should you find that to be insufficient proof, I invite you to review the following quote from this article, which describes how young girls are purchasing them:

Shopkeepers have been known to approach young girls for sexual favors in exchange for vapes.

The exploitation of minors is one way that the dark market grows, and to be honest, it is fairly sickening to think that there are adults in our society who would continue the farce and conceal this information for as long as they could until someone got wind of it.
In addition, to make a market for their products, drug dealers frequently conceal hazardous and even more addictive substances in vape pens.
Acknowledging that children will purchase them due to the flavors and colors, in addition to the discussion of society norms, they emerge from the other side wealthy from the pain of children.

Drug dealers use young men as test subjects by having them sell vapes to their friends and in schools locally. It demonstrates whether the kids can sell things and turn a profit, at which point drugs take control.

Puffing out toxic vapour from a live battery is not nearly as harmful to youngsters as a repulsive, open-air nighttime market of crime. Not only can it result in death, but it can also create serious trauma connected to abandonment and trust.

Recognition and Help

It is possible to identify whether a child or young person is addicted to vaping in a number of ways. When compared to recreational use, it is considerably easier to recognize an addiction. Similar to the indicators of smoking, vaping too has its own set of signs, which include but are not limited to:
  • New on-going cough or wheezing
  • Increased thirst
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Skin damage
  • Nosebleeds
  • Mouth sores
  • Buying batteries/chargers
  • Complaints about chest pain
  • New jitteriness/anxiety
How can adults now assist with this?
Numerous online tools are at our disposal to assist us in providing support to others, particularly to young individuals struggling with addiction.
Given that vaping initially became an addiction due to social pressure, it is an odd addiction. All things considered, I think the wisest course of action is to remain calm.
When parents punish their children severely for misbehaving, the child will learn to hide their misbehavior and not speak out when anything is wrong. Consider the following strategies in place of resorting to force:
  1. Placing yourself in the child's position and conversing with them.
  2. Asking them to disclose their addiction to you and provide an explanation for their actions.
  3. Promoting a discussion and narrative about it that highlights the potential for vaping to become an expensive and risky issue in the future.
  4. If it reaches that point, help them help themselves by getting medical assistance for rehabilitation.
  5. Therapy and counseling.
Making a list of the vapes they have purchased and noting the prices next to them is one strategy that I believe works well.
By revealing the true cost of the vapes they have purchased, you may persuade them to spend their money on enjoyable things.
Consider rewarding them each time they save money instead of letting them buy vape accoutrements.

In summary

From developing a nicotine addiction and increasing their likelihood of smoking cigarettes as they age (W.H.O., 2023) to passing on damaged genes to their offspring (Ahmed, 2023).
Hughes and Watkinson (2023) describe the situation as a "public health catastrophe" for youth, while Das and Ungoed-Thomas (2022) describe 12-year-olds in hospitals suffering from lung damage making pleas to quit vaping.
The world is getting harsher for the younger generation as they deal with this new, hidden chemical threat. The simplest thing for us to do is to keep pressing for legislation to end the matter.