By Rachel Suggs ’21
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is finally taking steps to address teen vape use in America. On Wednesday, Sept. 12, the FDA formally declared youth vaping, or the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), a health epidemic. They sent warnings and some large fines to over 1,300 e-cigarette retailers who illegally sold their products to minors, and demanded that five manufacturers prove that they can prevent teen vape use. The FDA has also threatened to ban e-cigarettes with flavors targeted towards children, such as bubble gum, mango and peppermint, among several others.
The use of e-cigarettes is a sickening habit in and of itself, but the fact that it is fundamentally practiced by high school and middle school-aged children is cause for our government to get involved. This substantial step by the FDA is only just the beginning of the vast reinforcements and crackdowns that are necessary to address this pressing issue.
According to drugabuse.gov, 3.6 percent of eighth graders, 6.3 percent of 10th graders and 11.4 percent of 12th graders regularly used traditional cigarette products in 2016. However, 9.5 percent of eighth graders, 14 percent of 10th graders and 16.2 percent of 12th graders regularly used e-cigarettes in that same year.
The fact that American youth are largely staying away from traditional tobacco products is one to appreciate, but the quantity of students using e-cigarettes is another issue to tackle.
Vaping continues to be a growing problem facing American youth. However, not that long ago, so was the use of traditional tobacco products. This is history repeating itself, which assures us of two things: the numbers of teen vapors eventually will drop after repeated FDA actions such as these important warnings and fines, but also that vaping will one day be replaced with a new version of itself.
For now, we can only hope that this substance from the future will not breed another generation of lung damage, and we must let the FDA continue to fight this urgent vaping epidemic as they see fit.