Vaping trend causes split of opinions

Leslie Rodriguez 
News Writer
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The increase in vaping among the youth leads to an equal amount of national debate and is a pandemic whose vapors have spread to the UNCA campus.
According to the Center for Disease Control, an E-cigarette or vape is an electronic device that heats a liquid combination of nicotine, flavor and a number of other chemicals. 
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that, since its introduction to the smoking market in the early 2000s, vapes and other E-cigarette devices have become increasingly popular. This increase if especially prevalent in high school students, having jumped 75 percent since last year alone.
 The percentages translate to more than 3.6 million young adults that currently use, vapes, and according to Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, begin vape use in high school. These practices not only introduce nicotine and other chemicals into the body but can harm adolescent parts of the brain that control attention and learning. 
Shannon Powers works at the Octopus Garden Smoke Shop, a local business located on Merrimon Ave. The store sells smokable items for tobacco and herbal use as well store memorabilia. 
Powers began smoking at a younger age and transitioned to using a vape pen to help her quit smoking. Vape pens serve as a transition from cigarettes to something less harsh and meant to help users no longer need nicotine. The idea of young adults vaping without prior dependency on nicotine is confusing and unnecessary and is seen more as a social trend, Powers said. 
“What is the point of getting an addiction to something that you don’t have one prior to just because you think it’s cool?” Powers said. 
Fisayo Bashorun, who started smoking as a senior in high school, said there should be regulations to control teenagers under the age of 18 from obtaining vapes, but when older than 18, a legal adult should be allowed to make their own decisions. 
“Come on, use your better judgment, but if you’re just a regular college student just trying to chief on a Juul, you just have a nicotine addiction, you just live with it. Quit if you want. Don’t quit if you want, but we know the risks. It’s like drinking too much alcohol. You know you could get alcohol poisoning but you blackout on a Friday anyway, but you wake up OK the next morning. What’s the big idea?” Bashorun said. 
While some opinions weigh the pros and cons of vaping, others look at the social aspect of vaping and see no benefit. 
“I think it definitely became a trend because some of my friends did smoke like cigarettes before they turned to vaping. But I feel like a lot of it, like even just high schoolers that my little sister goes to school with, they started vaping because they thought it was cool,” said Jennifer Olvera. 
The prolonged effects of using E-cigarettes and vapes are only just now beginning to surface in the public. However, what is becoming clearer is the detrimental effect that prolonged use of vape products can have on a person’s lungs. The American Lung Association has expressed concern that continued use of vape products not only poses health risks to adolescents but can lead to irreversible lung damage and lung disease. Levels of chemical toxicity are the biggest concern when it comes to using E-cigarettes and vapes. 
“What I think it is these little prefilled cartridges. So they see some people see how it’s such a high demand. They’ll make those little cartridges for super cheap and put in those cartridges something that we’re not allowed to vape. I feel like that’s what’s solely hurting these kids because that’s pretty much the hot commodity right now,” Powers said.
“I feel like any inhaling of a carcinogen, whether it be like marijuana or cigarettes or vaping, any type of like vapor in your lungs isn’t good for you. And I just feel like that’s the risk you take when you decide to pick up vaping. And it’s just kind of like the terms and conditions that you agree on,” Bashorun said. 
Some regulations are put into place in an attempt to keep young adults from vaping and possibly later addiction, however, to some there is only so much that can be done. 
“Even if we do ban all these kids, people are still gonna find a way to get it. They’re still gonna find a way to use it or try and do all this stuff with it. At that point, really there’s nothing to do to help stop it,” said Powers. 
The rapidly growing trend of using E-cigarettes and vapes has reached near pandemic proportions. What follows this is the increasing need for research, the only way for the public to fully keep themselves informed is for companies to be honest with what exactly they are putting into their products. 
“There needs to be more research done on the effects of vaping on the human body. Specifically on young adults, but also on older adults, like the people who were addicted before and smoke like a pack a day and switched to like e-cigs. Did that actually help their body?” Olvera said. “I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life and I never will want to because I can’t stand the smell of it. A cigarette will never sound appetizing.”