Tessa Hughes is a journalism sophomore and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News. 

I would like to preface this by saying I don’t vape. Vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes is ridiculous as nicotine is an incredibly addictive substance that people use for a few second high. Quite frankly, there are 1,001 better ways to have a good time. 

My personal lifestyle choices aside, vaping is skyrocketing among college students, according to a University of Michigan study. The number of students who vape doubled from 2017 to 2018. So far, there has been seven vaping-related deaths and 530 cases of hospitalized vaping-related lung diseases in the United States in 2019, according to the Center for Disease Control. These statistics have caused President Donald Trump’s administration to propose banning flavored e-cigarettes, leaving only tobacco flavor. 

A health advisory was sent out in San Luis Obispo County to K-12 schools discussing the severe lung illnesses associated with vaping. The advisory, written by County Health Officer Penny Borenstein, stated “President Trump’s recent announcement is good news, that he intends to seek a federal ban on flavoring additives in e-cigarettes, the most common reason for youth uptake of these products.”

Since e-cigarettes are being offered in an array of flavors, such as blueberry, cheesecake or rocket popsicle, the habit is even more enticing to younger generations. Personally, I can’t see the appeal in smoking the flavor of cheesecake over actually eating a slice (saving calories maybe?), but the overall health effects of fewer calories now don’t seem worth it in comparison to a lifelong addiction. 

In fact, I believe all nicotine-related products should be banned. According to the American Heart Association, nicotine is just as addictive a drug as heroin. Why shouldn’t nicotine be just as illegal? The same argument cannot be made for marijuana products because there are medicinal purposes for cannabis and is far less addictive, according to the CDC.

The criminalization of vaping would save lives and reduce teenage smoking. 

This type of ban could be equated to that of the Prohibition era. With so many people today who are addicted to nicotine, it is too deeply rooted in our society to completely take it away now. People would riot. However, banning only flavored products is keeping vaping in its purest form and eliminating its more recreational use. 

Non-tobacco flavors are heavily to blame for the dramatic rise in youth vaping. Juul, one of the most popular e-cigarette brands, has already stopped selling flavored e-cigarettes in stores that do not verify customer ages.

“We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products. We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective,” a JUUL spokesperson said. 

E-cigarettes were originally designed as a way to combat smoking — they were intended to be a safer alternative. This was because they were thought to have fewer chemicals than traditional cigarettes. However, the chemicals in the special flavorings react to the vapor carrier chemicals during manufacturing and create a more harmful chemical compound known as acetals, according to a study at Duke University. These compounds are known to be strong irritants and the extent of their harm is still being researched. In other words, flavorful vaping is a lot more dangerous.  

By keeping the tobacco flavor but banning other flavors, Trump is allowing vaping to be used for its initial purpose: aiding those who are addicted to actual cigarettes. He is also attempting to lower the appeal for teenagers.

In the end, if teenagers are so dead set on vaping, the flavor shouldn’t matter. If they want to vape they can taste the tobacco, and if they want to taste blueberry cheesecake, you know what they’ll have to do? Eat an actual cheesecake.

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