Claire Dokko Ridgecrest Intermediate School 8th
There is a rising epidemic among youths…vaping. E-cigarettes are a novel invention, introduced to the world only 17 years ago. In addition to its soaring popularity, vaping has become ubiquitous and common amongst the youth generation.
Vaping is the inhaling of the vapor (aerosol) produced by an e-cigarette. A popularized e-cigarette brand, Juul, has grown into a multi-billion-dollar company, attracting many young users. By February 2020, there have been 68 deaths and over 2800 reported hospitalizations as a result of vaping. The use of e-cigarettes is a significant issue that could very possibly lead to detrimental effects on one’s health.
Teens of today are completely oblivious to the downfalls of vaping and are entranced by the image media has created of vaping. Through the prominence of vaping on social media, this act appears to teens as a normality. Many credit Juul Lab’s Marketing for the reason why vaping has gained such popularity. Their ads and marketing strategies appeal to the younger demographic and have implanted the idea in many young people’s minds that vaping is “cool” and “trendy.”
Many young people also feel social pressure to start vaping. Teenagers feel the incredible need to fit in. They will do almost anything to be accepted by their peers--to feel like they belong.
“I think many teens are vaping because they believe that it will relieve their stress, and it also makes them seem cool, leading to popularity,” says ASB vice president of RIS, Rylee Izumo. “There is also the factor of peer pressure that plays into effect. They don’t want to seem uncool and feel left behind, even though they don’t necessarily agree with vaping.”
So what can we do to put a stop to this epidemic? The effects of vaping must be elevated, as educating young people of the devastating repercussions will help them to realize the consequences and could encourage them to rise above social pressures early on. The vaping crisis needs to be brought to the public’s attention now.
Luckily, many schools are taking action to end this epidemic. Ridgecrest Intermediate School, in Southern California, one of the many schools that are attempting to make a change in their community, formed a club called RISe Above, with the purpose to cease vaping and tobacco use. “The purpose of RISe Above is to educate youths about the negative effects of vaping. I wanted to join to help create a cleaner environment and keep citizens in our community healthy, happy, and safe,” says Izumo.
This club, led by ASB adviser, Ms. Blosser, is a student-run organization and welcomes anyone who wishes to join and contribute. Several activities RISe Above has planned for this year are visiting local elementary schools to elucidate the harmfulness of vaping, host anti-vape poster making contests, and raising awareness on this issue at the town hall.
Forming this club may appear unnecessary for kids of such a young age, but vaping is a prominent issue within middle schoolers, as well. From bathroom stalls to alleyways behind malls, teenagers can be caught vaping in many blind spots. Even though this is unfortunate, this is a reality that requires action.
So, being a part of the anti-vape and tobacco coalition will truly help to positively influence many schools and communities. In order to end this vaping epidemic, people must not be discouraged, but challenged and strive to be the change that they want to see in the world. They must not let fear get in the way of taking action. They must rise above.
<Claire Dokko Ridgecrest Intermediate School 8th