Opinion: Crippling nicotine addiction: this time in mango!

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Opinion: Crippling nicotine addiction: this time in mango!

Parker Lane, Staff Columnist

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Walking around campus, chances are you have seen a strange little USB flash drive entering people’s mouths as they pass by you on the streets, followed by a puff of smoke and the faint smell of something sweet in the air. Chances are that you also know that this is a Juul, a name-brand electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) that is sweeping the nation in the 15-24-year-old demographic. 

Juul produces e-cigarette bodies and “pods,” which are flavored liquid packets that are vaporized with nicotine to create the traditional puff of smoke associated with smoking. If you had asked experts 10 years ago – paired with all the anti-smoking advertisements, taxes and the social stigma of smoking – if this generation would become addicted to nicotine, they probably would have said no. 

So, what changed that encouraged our youth to be so open to these ideas when they had the potential to be the first generation to not be addicted to nicotine? The answer is simple. Nicotine comes in neat flavors now! Do you want the summery taste of watermelon? What about the coffeehouse vibe of cappuccino? Then again, you can’t go wrong with the classic mango. Take your pick! 

Well, it’s not really that simple, but it does have a big impact on sales, especially in younger demographics who might be turned away from traditional cigarettes due to their acrid taste. Also, a small pod that is less than a square inch in size is easier to hide than a pack of cigarettes, and there is no fire hazard when it comes Juuling either, so it is easier to smoke in a bathroom, classroom, etc. Because of this, Juuls, and E-cigarettes in general, are very harmful to society and should be treated with even more prejudice than traditional cigarettes or tobacco products. 

There have been many reports over the last few years of vape shops mixing their own vapor liquids and having severe health related consequences. While Juuls are regulated by the FDA along with all other commercially produced nicotine products, it is not particularly difficult to alter the contents of a Juul pod or any other liquid that can be used in a similar mechanism and have some seriously nasty side effects. 

While E-cigarettes are advertised as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, the truth is that E-cigarettes are too new to have undergone testing extensive enough to find all of the long-term effects. If you remember old cigarette advertisements, medical experts would go on television and espouse that cigarettes were good and healthy, and that no ill effects were found. 

Knowing what we do now, experts can definitively say that those claims are false, but only after many years of trials, experiments and studies. Additionally, within the last week, there has been the first nicotine-vapor related death documented in Illinois due to a lung illness. 

This does not look well for the future safety of vaping, and it seems as if there is only one effective course of action from this point forward. Completely ban all vaping tools, accessories and other related paraphernalia in the United States to ensure the safety of those who partake and those in the vicinity of people who do. 

By enacting a total ban, the US could prevent another wave of lung illness that plagued the generations before us, further preventing costly anti-vape campaigns in the future and public funding to those who experience nicotine addiction. 

So, before you take another hit of that Juul, think about being strapped to a machine that forces air in and out of your lungs for the foreseeable future.