Nicotine's Not So Sneaky Disguise - The Miami Hurricane

“16 million Americans are currently living with tobacco-related diseases.” according to cdc.gov. And recently, electronic cigarettes are raising the steaks at a much faster pace.

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm

Electronic alternatives for smoking such as Juuls, Blu cigs, e-cigarettes and THC cartridges made headlines in 2017 for their global outreach to young adults. At first, e-cigarette brands were commercialised using young and sexy models seen at a lively scene, holding a Juul pen, drinking, and enjoying life. These advertisements sparked controversy from opposed to smoking including the CTFK (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids), who claimed these commercial targets are young adults, however the range is wide and the product would potentially lead to influencing minors. These implications are rightfully assumed because of the many marketing tactics the e-cigarettes companies utilizes. Marketing through social media were the company's main source of revenue with social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms with a recurring monetized content. Many of the e-cigarette companies claim their marketing intentions weren’t to reach out to the youth, but instead to addicts who are looking to quit smoking without ‘going cold turkey’. “A better alternative to cigarettes.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juul#Marketing


These claims, may they be true or false, are no match to the statistics of their product’s effects on the users. In recent news, according to the Washington Post, “there have been at least 1,080 injuries and 18 deaths connected to e-cigarettes...” and other electronic smoking devices across the states. It's also stated that the median range of these victim’s age is 19 years-old, proving that minors not only use the products, but that these companies are the cause of recent lung illnesses in children who are not of the legal age to use said products. There were reports of symptoms related to respiratory issues such as excessive coughing and chest pains, and other symptoms like nausea and vomiting, fatigue, fever, and even diarrhea. Though these illnesses may seem minimal and manageable at home, they mysteriously and quickly turn to life-threatening sicknesses that leave the victims bed ridden in hospitals. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/09/07/what-we-know-about-mysterious-vaping-linked-illnesses-deaths/


Philip, a junior at the University of Miami, shares his story on struggling with e-cigarettes. He began smoking vape pens in high school when one of his friends introduced him to e-cigarettes. He unfortunately shifted from taking a few hits of his friend’s pen to eventually owning a pen himself; he never realized he was slowly becoming dependent on the device until he took note of the symptoms affecting him in the long run. He found himself constantly hitting his pen whenever he was able to fit it into his schedule, and he'd burn through money repeatedly buying cartridges. He soon transferred to cigarettes. Time went by and he tried to quit both e-cigs and cigarettes when he noticed he was barely getting enough sleep within his addiction. He would often times wake up feeling as if he never went to sleep to begin with. He was incredibly fatigued throughout the day, and as a busy UM student, it is known that sleep is necessary to best apply yourself within your school work. He is now clean of any tobacco and nicotine chemicals since he's quit smoking. There is an additional struggle in quitting, however, because there's always longing for the comfort that derived from the addiction. Philip chooses to focus on his family, mainly his younger sister, whom he doesn't want to see hooked on the same drug he once fell prey to.


I spoke to Dean of Students Steven Priepke on the campus rules and regulations for the University of Miami. As the official in charge of creating and enforcing the school conduct within students, staff, and faculty, Dean Priepke made it his best efforts for this campus to remain a non-smoking school. The University of Miami posted anti-tobacco placards at every corner of the campus. The Breathe Freely placards remind the everyday visitor that smoking of any kind, whether it be natural or electronic, is prohibited from the campus; shockingly, a $250 fine is charged to any violators. A few years ago, the fine began at $75, and then made a radical jump to almost $300. I asked Dean Priepke why the school decided to make such a drastic change in the fine price to which he replied that “the school was having a hard time making an impact against tobacco with a fine that seemed so easily paid.”. Now with a higher fine that resembles someone's paycheck or 1⁄3 their rent, students seem to have second thoughts on whether to smoke on campus or take their business elsewhere. “The number of students smoking on campus has definitely decreased since the change” stated Dean Priepke.


If a student is caught smoking on campus, there are measures taken as punishment. Disciplinary warnings such as the lowest level of verbal warning plus the $250 fine for first time offenders is typical. Afterwards, strict probation that used to entail a smoking sensation “rehabilitation” class referral, but was discontinued due to the students not taking the class seriously deeming it a waste of time and money, is penalized towards double offenders. Final probation officially goes onto your conduct record which will make applying for grad school, jobs, internships, a professional license in your degree field, and other outside opportunities difficult. These measures help students understand that smoking is not allowed on campus, and truly, isn't really worth the puff.


Unfortunately, cigarettes were re-invented into the vape pens and electronic cigarettes kids are sporting today. Not only are these devices popular, but their mechanical anatomy makes using them at inappropriate times and locations easier. Easier use means frequently used. And that can only lead to more lung diseases, illness and even death. An example of an inappropriate moment of use is in a high school culinary class, presented in Chance Ammirata’s case reported on BuzzfeedNews.com. The teen became addicted to vaping like most teenagers do, through a deadly domino effect. Ammirata’s friend was smoking one in class and that was where he got his first hit. He stated "I felt this buzz and it was like all of the anxiety and stress that I had [went away]." Afterwards it only took a few weeks for Ammirata to own a vape pen of his own. He felt dependable and unable to function without vaping everyday, he elaborated; “...I kind of got trapped…”. Ammirata was eventually hospitalized for one of his lungs collapsing, an illness his doctor stated was due to the use of electronic cigarettes. Now recovered, Ammirata reaches out to other young smokers, warning them of the dangers of smoking.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/skbaer/teens-vaping-juul-injury-warning-social-media


Another youth who’s been critically affected by smoking electronic cigarettes is 19-year old Anthony Mayo according to People.com. Rushed into urgent care as recent as September of this year (2019), Mayo’s doctor reported to his parents, “lungs were almost entirely blocked with solidified vaping oils, which they compared to bacon grease.” With Mayo’s lungs being compared to that of a 70-year old smoker’s and having an O2 level lower than a dead person’s, stated in People.com, the parents take to Facebook a prayer for their son to beat the odds and recover from the illness caused from vaping. They write ““Now we pray that the ‘good’ lung doesn’t develop a mucus plug which would cause him to not be able to breathe at all.”. His recovery was eventually reached though the problems caused by smoking is still by his side today, and will be for a very long time.

https://people.com/health/vaping-related-illness-stories/


Though the Juul company can never really know the exact demographics of their customers, and have no real way of preventing the purchasing of their products from certain people, their claims are what make their product more dangerous than cigarettes and fatal to society as a result, because their claims are inaccurate and lead the public to false beliefs.


In America, the legal age for a person to purchase a nicotine/tobacco product is 18 years old. However, it is well known that minors have access to contraband from either bribing an older person to buy the goods for them, going to corner stores that are rumoured to sell the merchandise to underage individuals, online stores, or buying them off a friend or a dealer. Black market products tend to find its way in the hands of minors, especially for the mere facts that they are easily accessed and assumably cheaper. However the real dangers are within. Seeing as the once fully-legal and highly-distributed Juul pen and others, were not completely FDA approved, and have yet to present their reports to the FDA for verification by January 2020, black market e-cigarettes are presumably unverified by the FDA, deeming them hazardous for everyday use. However, since the unlicensed drug product, both on and off the black market, is sold without warning of its symptoms, nor any federally-advised cautionary labels that natural cigarette packages are lawfully required to print on every single cigarette package, the only entity of anticipation is the ‘Tropical Mango Breeze’ or ‘Sour Patch’ candy flavoring that will soon fill the air, surround the user, and cover his/her lungs with exotic flavors of the tropics.

https://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/resources/us-e-cigarette-regulations-50-state-review/FL

https://www.juul.com/shop/pods

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/09/27/765151187/many-vaping-illnesses-linked-to-black-market-dank-vapes-or-other-thc-products


“While I like the Vaping alternative to Cigarettes, we need to make sure this alternative is SAFE for ALL! Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping!”. This tweet was released by current President of the United States, @realDonaldTrump on Twitter. A lot of online users had much to say in regards to this nation's leader’s tweet, both in support and in disagreeance, however, seeing as it would be incredibly difficult to turn a drug like tobacco and nicotine to a safe substance that bears no negative effects on the human body, this tweet is also unrealistic and naive. Many praise the president for accounting for the health of this nation's citizens, but the continuation of electronic cigarettes products sold can mean the difference between a nicotine addiction and sudden death due to lung and respiratory issues.

https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1172639954985455616?lang=en


Statistics from the TruthInitiative.org, an organization dedicated to reducing the numbers of tobacco addicts in America, provides us with a plethora of evidence proving that e-cigarettes and vape pens are more detrimental to the user than previously believed. Because of these rising evidential cases American states are now taking legal action against electronic cigarettes and vape pens by partial and complete bans of the products all together. Cigarettes are legal, yet have mandated warnings on every pack of cigarettes, and some argue the complete ban of e-cigs are both unjust and a double standard in regards to the slap on the wrist cigarettes received for the deaths they’ve caused over the years; however, taking into account the drastically fast decline a person's health endured, with many shockingly quick deaths caused by e-cigarettes, compared to the gradual health risks cigarettes pose, the penalizations seem just. Six states and one city across the United States have so far banned vape pens, THC cartridges and electronic cigarettes to some extent. These bans will officially hold in as early as January 2020. These states include San Francisco/Los Angeles, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington State, Oregon, and Montana.


Funnily enough, according to Esquire.com, though the Juul headquarters reside in San Francisco, San Francisco is banning the sale of all electronic cigarettes, no acceptions. and Los Angeles will possibly follow their sister city’s footsteps in 2020. Other states have either passed partial laws only addressing flavored pods and not the entire electronic cigarette, however the gradual intensive attitude towards the product may predict its future, and it isn't looking too bright.

Most of these state bans are open to be once electronic cigarettes are deemed safe by the FDA. In other words, Juul and other rival companies have a lot of modifications to consider and implement before early 2020 for a chance to revive the electronic cigarette, but to make them safe is the real challenge, seemingly impossible. https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/emerging-tobacco-products/e-cigarettes-facts-stats-and-regulations

https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/health/a29067489/which-states-banned-flavored-e-cigarettes-vaping-juuls/


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