Vaping Issue Hits Close to Home

With the recent vape health upset striking a bit too close to home, Dimond officials and students had something to say about implications that may be seen here in Anchorage. 

In an article published by CBS News, it was stated that The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contacted e-cigarette giant Juul about false claims made about their wildly popular nicotine product. 

According to CBS News, Juul has made claims that their products were “99% safer than cigarettes.” Research shows that this is blatantly false, and while e-cigarettes have not been on the market long enough to study long-term health risks, teens have already been hospitalized with life-threatening lung issues directly linked to chemicals found in Juul pods. 

A pediatric study published last year found a number of dangerous and toxic chemicals in e-cigarettes, as well as a specific chemical linked to several types of cancer, perhaps contributing to the 450 vape-related respiratory illnesses that have already been reported across the country. 

 It’s not just underage teens, though. Middle-aged consumers used the supposedly better product to try to quit smoking, as well. Now they may be worse off. 

Dimond Nurse Julie Cheverton said, “I think it’s a health hazard. You don’t gain any ground over smoking. Peer pressure is the strongest force there is to encourage an activity.”

Dimond Freshman Bella Maillet said, “I think vaping is harmful, I’ve seen plenty of articles about what it does to your lungs and things like that.

 

“Vape use has definitely risen in the past few years, and there have been plenty more ads for vaping explaining how it’s better than smoking, probably helping contribute to the problem,” Maillet said. 

Kansas reported its first vaping-related death last month, joining Minnesota, Indiana, Oregon, Illinois and Los Angeles. 

Juul also controversially offers flavored nicotine products, with candy-reminiscent flavors such as bubblegum or mango, worrying parents about the appeal to teens. 

Sophomore Ashley Burks said, “I do think it’s a rising problem. I think they [e-cigarettes] are definitely targeted to teens and kids. The flavors are the main thing that is drawing kids to vaping, in my opinion.” 

Dimond Student and Staff Services Assistant Principal and Chris Kleckner said, “I think they’re just as serious as anything else, because when you think about it, you’re inhaling a flavored liquid. Are you going to go out and inhale Kool-Aid? No.

 “You don’t really know what’s in there, for the most part. Just like cigarettes, there’s all these secondary additives. The flavoring, it’s not real,” Kleckner said.

Teenagers make up large chunks of Juul’s consumers, despite the legal age of consumption being 18. 

Kleckner said, “Vaping is an issue, we just need to be very vigilant. We do have an issue, and I think we reflect what’s happening nationwide, which is a problem.

“When I was catching kids, I was looking at content. The level of nicotine content that can be placed a pod can be significantly different to the point where if you smoke the entire pod, you’re probably taking in as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes or more. That’s another issue. 

“Hopefully kids are smart enough to avoid. At the high school level, because I still remember what I was like in high school, you think of yourself as being invincible. You don’t think anything will hurt your health, Kleckner said. 

Cheverton said, “I think there’ll be changes in the future. They’ll have to change their marketing, and there’s talk of raising the age to purchase vapes.”

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg slammed the FDA last Tuesday for contributing to the vaping epidemic; he pledged $160 million to help prevent and fix the issue.

According to CBS News, Bloomberg said, “People are dying now and getting addicted. The timeline is yesterday, not tomorrow.”