Vaping: It’s not worth it

Diana Sturdy

E-cigarettes are common on college campuses, and Washington and Lee is no exception. According to a survey by the National College Health Assessment, college students estimated that in the last 30 days, 79.9 percent of their peers had vaped.

President Trump and his administration announced on September 11, 2019 that the government plans to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. For users of the popular e-cigarette, Juul, the consequences include the removal of flavored Juul pods from the legal market. The government’s actions to help limit the youth’s use of nicotine has brought the vaping epidemic into the limelight. It raises the alarming question: Should college students be vaping?

The question requires careful examination of current research on the effects of vaping. Nicotine is known to have adverse effects on the brain, lungs, and heart. When inhaled, nicotine increases heart rate and produces a head rush sensation. Although the immediate effects may be pleasurable, the long-term effects are dangerous. According to the Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology, Nicotine is a poison to the human body that can be carcinogenic. Pancreatic cancer can be a side effect of prolonged nicotine use, as it stimulates stress neurotransmitters in the brain. Consequently, nicotine can cause feelings of anxiety, depression, irritability and difficulty concentrating.

Washington and Lee students already have enough mental stress from balancing classes, relationships and extracurriculars, as well as physical stressors like intense exercise and alcohol consumption; the addition of nicotine as a mental and physical stressor is bad for students’ ability to focus, exercise and maintain a positive mood. Additionally, the Indian Journal reports that nicotine has been linked to cardiovascular and respiratory problems. For athletes, the detrimental effects to the body can severely hurt their play. The short “buzz” sensation from nicotine isn’t worth the long-term effects that can lead to premature death and expensive medical procedures.

Not only are teens experiencing the harmful effects of vaping nicotine, but they are also vaping THC. According to the New York Times, vaping THC has been linked to the uptick in vaping-related deaths in the past year. This is mostly the case because many of these THC Juul pods are bought off the black market or manufactured by homeowners. Thus, these pods have no regulations and often contain Vitamin E oil, which is lethal when inhaled. The New York Times reported that across nearly 40 states there have been more than 500 cases of severe lung disease and eight deaths reportedly related to vaping.

I believe that students should not be vaping because it has irreversibly damaging effects on their bodies and hinders their ability to perform well academically. Students have the resources to make an informed decision about whether or not to vape, but making the wrong choice can derail the rest of their lives. If the impact of vaping on your own life isn’t enough to curtail you from the habit, imagine the impact your death would have on your family, friends and professors. Imagine the effect vaping will have on your children and future generations. In short, vaping is by no means “worth it.” Let’s be the generation that ends vaping.