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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Vaping should be illegal

Christa Kim
A skeleton stands surrounded by smoke. Opinion Columnist Jescenia Calderon believes vapes and e-cigarettes’ should be illegal. (Christa Kim | Northern Star)

The health and addiction risks of vaping are dangerous enough that vapes and e-cigarettes should be illegal. 

Some flavorings of vape include diacetyl, a chemical that leads to bronchiolitis obliterans, or popcorn lung, according to Illinois Department of Public Health. Essentially, your bronchioles, which are tiny tubes in the lungs that aid in delivering air, can become swollen and irritated, which leads to scarring. Other physical dangers from vaping include organ damage and cancer, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Katherine Coulter, assistant professor and director of graduate nursing studies at NIU, explained that vapes and e-cigarettes have been linked to various lung illnesses. 

“Chemicals in the vapes or the e-cigarettes have been associated with what’s called EVALI, which is e-cigarette or vaping product use assisted lung injury, and it’s been linked with about 1,900 cases of severe lung disease and even death,” Coulter said.

Vaping is unnecessary and dangerous to your health. The main reason people continue to smoke is due to addiction. This further proves that vapes should be illegal because of the risk they pose to the public.

Over 3 million U.S. teens have vaped an e-cigarette in the last 30 days at the time of a 2021 study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaping emits fewer fumes than cigarettes or other similar products, so it’s easier to consume discreetly. This may explain vaping’s popularity among teens. 

Vaping has also become a cultural practice where in some cases kids vape to fit in.  

“It’s a social thing, right?” Coulter said. “When I was younger, it was commercials, but now it’s (vaping) all over social media and especially with vaping, I think it’s that social peer-to-peer influence. There’s a lot of peer influence to it, and especially when the flavors were not outlawed because now we don’t use flavors – I think the FDA put a stop to that – that was really triggering for the youth to start was because they were flavored. There was candy flavors and there was sugary flavors, so, but I think a lot of it’s peer influence.” 

Vaping is already illegal for minors, but many still find a way to go against it. As previously shown by the CDC, considering the impacts vaping may leave on children, vaping should be illegal for all ages.

“It can impact our brain development because, remember, youth – the brain is still developing up until the age of 25,” Coulter said. “So, the nicotine exposure can really have lasting effects on cognitive function and even attention.” 

Nicotine addiction is a serious problem. There are a lot of ways to overcome it. 

“There’s support from friends and peers, and then there’s medications, right, so there’s a couple different oral medications like Wellbutrin or Chantix,” Coulter said. “But then there’s also patches where you can apply nicotine patches or even inhaled nicotine inhalers or nicotine gum, and those things can be helpful. But I would say that cognitive behavioral therapy is probably the most helpful.”

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