Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Vaping: The not-so-safe alternative to cigarettes

Vaping-related illnesses are on the rise in the United States, and public health officials have begun to issue warnings to consumers. 

Whether it’s using e-cigarettes that contain nicotine or a chemical THC derivative, those who vape could be at risk. 

Because consumers cannot be sure whether any THC vaping products contain vitamin E acetate, the FDA has urged consumers to avoid buying vaping products on the street and refrain from using THC oil or adding substances to products purchased in store.

The CDC has also issued a warning urging individuals to cease the use of all e-cigarettes until further research is done into recent vaping-related deaths.

TJ Adams, a senior in the criminal justice and criminology department at UMKC, shared his experience with vaping. 

“I started my freshman year of college, a good friend of mine introduced me to a new product called JUUL,” Adams said. 

The JUUL was originally created to help adult smokers improve their lives by eliminating cigarettes and aiding in addiction recovery. 

However, a newer, typically younger wave of consumers was then capitalized upon. Those who previously had never smoked may find e-cigarette products like JUUL appealing because it is a discrete device, and it offers a wide variety of flavor options.

“JUULs look so much cleaner and sleeker than cigarettes,” Adams said. 

No matter what form nicotine takes, it is a highly addictive substance.  

“100% it’s an addiction,” Adams said. “I can’t go a couple hours without my JUUL”

Eduardo Abreu, professor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies at UMKC, warns students about the consumption of nicotine.

“It can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, reduced blood flow at the coronaries and to body extremities, less appetite, altered glucose metabolism, among others,” Abreu said.  

With the surge of minors consuming nicotine, the very real threat to one’s bodily system is present. 

“In adolescents, there are important effects of nicotine on the brain since it is still developing, especially a part of the brain responsible for cognition control and attention, the prefrontal cortex,” Abreu said.

Kansas recently reported its first vaping-related death, and popular e-cigarette companies like blu and JUUL are beginning to face backlash. 

The Trump administration has even issued a statement urging the ban of flavored e-cigarettes and is prepared to make possible recommendations to the FDA amid the outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. 

UMKC Associate Dean of Students and Constitutional Law Professor Allen Rostron outlined the potential legal backlash e-cigarette companies could face in the near future. 

“Individual people, or organizations with an interest in the issue, can bring various sorts of legal claims against these businesses,” Rostron said. 

With vaping and JUUL-ing being branded as a “safe alternative” to smoking, e-cigarette companies could be held legally liable just for making that claim. 

“There can also be claims for misrepresentation, which means saying something about the product that is not true,” Rostron said. “There is a fair amount of litigation about this that is underway, and there will likely be more in the future”. 

Ultimately, it is still unclear who will be held liable for the recent illnesses and deaths associated with vaping. This conversation has quickly turned into one of the major issues of our generation, and it shows no signs of subsiding any time soon.

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