Increased vaping among teens has become a growing concern in the U.S. over recent years. The JUUL settlement was just one major step in combating marketing tactics geared toward adolescents. But, health and addiction concerns over youth vaping have continued, with many schools looking for ways to help tackle the epidemic.
Youth Vaping Epidemic: US Stats
According to a study conducted by the FDA and CDC, 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarette products in 2022. Eighty-five percent of those youth used flavored e-cigarettes. Given the health risks detailed in the next section, these high numbers have concerned parents, health professionals, and schools. The study also revealed that one in four youth who used e-cigarette products used them daily.
While more research is needed on vaping, as it is so new, there already are scary risks being unveiled. Continuing to do research is vital to get a better picture of what is happening, creating awareness to combat the number of adolescents who vape, with the hope to reduce the number of vaping youths in the coming years.
Why is Vaping Bad for These Students?
Especially for adolescents, there are serious health risks imposed by vaping. These health risks get progressively worse for those who vape on a frequent basis. The biggest risks associated with vaping include:
- Lung disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Nicotine addiction
- Decreased impulse control
E-cigarette users inhale harmful aerosols that contain toxins known to cause cancer. Electronic smoking device (ESD) aerosol exposes users to ultrafine particles that could exacerbate asthma and increase the risk of a heart attack.
For students, there is also a risk towards brain development. The human brain continues to develop until someone is in their mid-20s. Youth vaping can inhibit the brain from developing properly, leading to a slew of risks.
Studies have shown that nicotine addiction can lead to mood disorders and a decreased ability to learn and pay attention. That has lifelong implications.
How Vaping Impacts Students at School
At school, teachers may notice that students who vape have a harder time paying attention and learning. ESDs can lead to lower productivity at school, resulting in lower academic performance. It can also disrupt lessons in the classroom, as the addictive quality of nicotine makes students want to leave class to vape in hallways, bathrooms, or locker rooms.
A primary concern over youth vaping is the discreet nature in which the devices can be used. It is often problematic for teachers to detect when students are vaping, as it does not smell when being used. For students who have grown addicted to vaping, this could lead them to feel more and more confident to try and get away with vaping in school.
Schools and the JUUL Settlement
Through the JUUL settlement, some schools and school districts have received the opportunity to use the settlement money towards anti-vaping efforts. The class action lawsuit accused the Altria Group, who created JUUL products, of marketing their products towards adolescents.
Many schools across the United States have been able to use the settlement money to combat vaping. One way to do this is through the use of a school vape detector. Schools have been able to use settlement money towards the purchase or installation of vape detectors that help teachers and administrators detect when vapes are used on their campus.
Ways for Schools to Tackle the Youth Vaping Epidemic
Educational institutions have many opportunities to create actionable plans to tackle student vaping. For example, adding no-vape policies can deter students from using their products on school grounds.
They can install vape detectors in discreet areas, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, to enforce these policies. That helps notify administrators and teachers about vape use at school in areas that are harder for them to access or monitor.
Another way to tackle student vaping is through education. There are plenty of resources available for schools to provide factual evidence to their students on the harmful effects of vape and e-cigarette products. Educating students can deter students by understanding the risks associated with these products.
Over to You
What are your thoughts on the alarming statistics surrounding youth vaping discussed above? Do you think there is enough awareness about the risks of vaping among students, parents, and educators? Let’s talk in the comments below!