Generation Z’s biggest temptation: Vaping

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By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Madison Carmouche-Soward

Generation Z was the first generation to have smoking rates drop during their upbringing, but they’re still finding nicotine by way of vaping.

And that’s just as, if not more dangerous than smoking, said University of Alabama Community Health Sciences Professor Dr. Alan Blum.

Electric nicotine delivery systems encompass vape pens, pods, tanks and electronic cigarettes.

While ENDS have been around since the 1930s, the rates of young ENDS smokers have risen 1,800% in the last 10 years, according to Truth Initiative.

“The problem with vaping comes from if you’re constantly doing it, that is the classic definition of addiction,” said Blum.

In Alabama, nicotine cannot be purchased by anyone younger than 21.

Although many college campuses including the University of Alabama banned the use of tobacco on campus, students still carry around and use vaping devices.

University of Alabama junior Jessica McDaniel said they’re ubiquitous around campus, and easy to purchase and use.

“Most of my friends vape, so even if I don’t have mine I can hit theirs,” McDaniel said. “That’s actually how I got started vaping.”

The popularity of devices like Juul continues even as lawsuits arise and the U.S. Federal Drug Administration cracks down on flavored offerings and advertisements targeting a young population.

“It was clever to make them look like USB drives so students can hide them, making it easier for them to switch between smoking and vaping where smoking isn’t allowed,” Blum said.

While the harmful effects of cigarettes are well-known, vaping has not been in vogue long enough for long-term studies on potential issues down the road. That may come back to bite students who believe it’s a safer alternative to buying a pack of cigarettes, Blum said.

“Do we even want to wait 10 or 15 years to find out the long-term effects when the use of nicotine is not necessary for humans to function,” Blum said.

The FDA recently authorized marketing for the Vuse Solo, a device popular with middle and high school nicotine users. According to the release, the Vuse Solo was “found to meet this standard because, among several key considerations, the agency determined that study participants who used only the authorized products were exposed to fewer harmful and potentially harmful constituents from aerosols compared to users of combusted cigarettes.”

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