Confectionery Cancer

Trump Strikes Back on Teen Vaping Epidemic

Grace Sailer and Kathy Ryan

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Teens face a number of different obstacles in today’s society, including the growing cost of college, school shootings, record-level economic and wage gaps, and the pressures of social media. But there is a new crisis surfacing that affects teens everywhere and has even incited the White House to take immediate action: vaping. 

On Wednesday, September 11th, 2019, President Trump announced plans for a ban on the sale of most flavored E-Cigarettes including flavored JUUL pods. According to the New York Times, “Public outrage stoked by accusations that Juul Labs was deliberately targeting youths led the company to voluntarily stop shipping most flavored pods, like mango and cucumber, to thousands of retail locations around the country.” The flavors of the vaping devices, such as mint and mango, are believed to be what is primarily drawing teens into using them. Trump was quoted from the oval office saying, “‘We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our kids be so affected.’” The plans were inspired by the fact that the flavors specifically market kids and teens, and play a crucial role in attracting teens to start the unhealthy habit, and continue it. 

On Wednesday, September 11th, 2019, President Trump announced plans for a ban on the sale of most flavored E-Cigarettes including flavored JUUL pods.


 Vaping has become so popular and easy to access that “one in five high schoolers and one in twenty middle schoolers vape, as of 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”. Many of these young teenagers, along with the general public, do not know what is in these vapes. However, according to the New York Times, “…as the devices got sleeker and the flavors more confectionary, their popularity among teens who may never have smoked to begin with skyrocketed…” While it is known there is nicotine present in them, which is an addictive substance, vapes have plenty of other harmful substances and carcinogens mixed in, some known, but many not yet discovered. The FDA’s campaign against smoking and vaping “The Real Cost”  outlines some of the other deadly substances in most vapes, including formaldehyde (the main ingredient in embalming liquid), propylene glycol (a main ingredients in antifreeze), acrolein (an ingredient in herbicides to kill plants), and diacetyl, the main culprit behind ‘popcorn lung’ – a smoking-related illness that causes extreme shortness of breath. The presence of these ingredients, as well as those that are undiscovered, is one of the biggest theories as to why there have been many people hospitalized and dying from vaping-related illnesses. 

Flavored vaping juices raise issues for police trying to crack down on illegal substances.

“There have been many people hospitalized and dying from vaping-related illnesses.” 

Flavored vaping juices raise issues for police trying to crack down on illegal substances. While placing a ban on flavored E-cigarettes may seem like a solution to the teen vaping epidemic, it may also require the legalization of marijuana, a highly controversial topic in itself. Many of the deaths and hospitalizations involving vaping in recent months have actually been linked to THC-infused vape pods. According to an article from the New York Post, “State laboratory test results found that ‘at least one vitamin E acetate-containing vape product has been linked to each patient who submitted a product for testing.’ Vitamin E acetate is an oily substance used to thicken cannabis-derived vaping liquids.” In an article from the New York Magazine, Josh Barro illustrates that while “as former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has noted, most of these illnesses appear to be related to marijuana vape products, not nicotine products”. The FDA will not have the authority to regulate these vapes because marijuana, including THC-infused vape products, is still only “de-facto legal” in the U.S. According to Barro, “Unlike with nicotine vapes, the FDA does not have legal authority to regulate marijuana vape products … but we’re seeing now that some of those products can be dangerous, and consumers are not well-equipped to figure out which ones … Federal regulators are needed to ensure consumer safety — and that has to start with Congress admitting marijuana is legal and giving the FDA authority to regulate it.”

THC-infused vapes are posing obstacles for police everywhere, even in New Jersey. According to an article from NJ 101.5 radio, “In Gloucester Township, New Jersey, a police officer seized “thousands of e-cigarette cartridges filled with THC oil — the primary agent involved in creating a marijuana ‘high’” during a routine traffic stop. Gloucester Police Chief Brendan Barton acknowledges the challenges that flavors cause in combating these THC-infused vapes, saying that because of the flavors, “You won’t get the pungent marijuana smell that you would get off of any smoked marijuana joint,” which makes it harder for police to identify if what an individual is smoking is actually an illegal substance. 

New Milford High School’s HIB coordinator and Student Assistance Counselor Ms. Dorene Zacher and School Nurse Ms. Lisa Natale are both passionate about outlawing the use of vaping for teens and adults while acknowledging the dangers of having confectionery flavors with vaping. “The flavors are made to target [teens],” said Ms. Natale. “An adult is not going to smoke a cotton-candy flavored vape, that’s just not true.” Ms. Zacher added. The women both agree that while Trump’s ban may not be a solution, it is part of the necessary action that needs to be taken to end this epidemic before it grows even larger. “He had to do something. While this may or may not be a solution to the problem entirely, something had to be done,” Ms. Natale said. “Trump supporter or not, what he’s doing is something.” 

Overall, they emphasized the danger of vaping as a whole, Ms. Natale saying “Vaping is leading kids into smoking; it’s another gateway vehicle”. Ms. Natale and Ms. Zacher emphasize that vaping is an un-researched, unregulated practice that has not only led to nineteen deaths in the US alone but also led today’s teens into a smoking epidemic reflective of rates two decades ago. Ms. Zacher draws a startling conclusion about the debate surrounding Vaping vs. Smoking cigarettes, “It all leads to the same thing: death. It’s like asking – would you rather be killed by getting shot in the head or stabbed to death?”

Director of the Science department and Biology teacher at NMHS, Mr. Keith Devereaux also made comments on the dangers involved with vaping. “It’s just so new that there’s not enough research on [vaping]… I’m sure it’s not safe, it may be safer than cigarettes, but at the end of the day you’re still burning substances and inhaling the fumes into your body, which can’t be safe.”