FDA declares youth vaping ‘an epidemic’


Kaylee Nguyen


Outside the Schimmel theater, walking through the streets, or waiting for the next train, one is bound to encounter at least one person vaping. Whether it be through vaporizers or electronic cigarettes (such as juuls), a new wave of vaping popularity among teens is on the rise. The increase in underage users has led the Food and Drug Administration to declare an e-cigarette epidemic in the country.

In an effort to limit the sales of these products to teenagers, the FDA has targeted manufacturers, giving them a 60 day notice to prove they can withhold their devices from minors. If not, the FDA will halt the sales of flavored e-cigarettes. Already, the administration has sent out warning letters to over 1,000 retailers, along with issued charges ranging from $200-$11,000 for the illegal sales.

There are a variety of reasons as to why minors are induced to start vaping, especially for those who never had a tobacco addiction to begin with. For instance, the e-juices that come in a variety of flavors such as mint, creme brulee, mango, and other flavors may appeal to minors, while others simply don’t know why they started in the first place.

“I’m not sure why I started. I didn’t smoke cigarettes before, but I guess I just like the buzz.”, said Michael*, a University student.

University sophomore Kylie M* also weighed in on the growing trend, commenting, “I would try it a few times when I was out with my friends but I don’t enjoy it. Everyone is vaping so I guess that’s why I tried it. It’s literally the modern cigarette that is easier to use because you can do it anywhere.”

Despite the notion that e-cigarettes are better for your health than traditional cigarettes, the possibility of nicotine addiction still looms, and the health consequences remain unknown. Some believe that the aerosol vapor in e-cigarettes is simply water vapor, but this is not the case. These devices are still being evaluated today, and studies have found that the aerosol vapor contains many chemicals and toxins that may be carcinogenic. 

The future of vaping rests in the hands of the FDA. Their primary goals are reducing cigarette addiction and preventing the youth from developing the habit. In their efforts, the FDA has considered forcing manufacturers to lower nicotine levels in their products. However, former cigarette users looking to switch to e-cigarettes do not have to worry that their alternative won’t exist. By 2022, e-cigarettes and vapes will still be available, but the FDA plans to keep a close eye on the vaping industry and issue standards to prevent minors from purchasing the devices.

*The students quoted in this article did not want their full names disclosed, as some are minors.