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March 21, 2023
The Vaping Epidemic of Gen Z By Indy Tupa
As a high school student in the modern day, I’ve seen some creative ways for teens to get access to vapes and cigarettes. A common theme amongst my peers is having an older sibling or parents get it for them, as well as disguising themselves to look older and visiting vape shops known for not asking for ID. Older teenagers use fake IDs to order bulk online and then distribute them to younger people at raised prices. Obviously, something needs to be done to halt the abundance of teens vaping and smoking.
On the topic of underage distributors, you may be wondering how they build a consistent consumer base. Snapchat is a huge factor in this epidemic, people will make “business” accounts under a pseudonym. How can we help prevent our youth from adding/ being added by these accounts? There isn’t a formula; however, we can take preventative steps to combat the issue at hand. One simple, effective thing parents can do is check their child's snapchat for users with “DMV,” a leaf emoji or the cell phone emoji in their display name or username.
Another observation I’ve made is regarding how they hide their vapes in school and at home. In school, I’ve noticed that girls will hide their vapes in their bras, crazy I know. Administration in some schools have attempted to fight this issue by having girls pull their underwire forward and jump; however, their attempts are not as effective as they hope. Boys on the other hand, can hide them in their pockets, boxer waist bands and even in their boots. In the home setting, I have seen friends hide them in pillowcases, socks, and even old shoes. An obvious solution is to do room checks, but invading their privacy will only make them more likely to find new hiding spots. Try having an honest, civil conversation if you suspect your child is vaping.
What can you do to encourage your friend or child to start the journey of quitting nicotine? An intervention can be very effective, if done correctly! You should make the “victim” feel supported and comfortable; they are more likely to listen to what you are saying. What should you say though? A few key points to hit on would be, long-term health effects (especially if they are <25), and the chemicals found in vapes, such as Benzene, Nickle and Diacetyl. You should also have them go to TheTruth.com and the American Lung Association’s website for good information and facts.
At the end of the day, everyone knows how hard it is to quit nicotine. We have seen adults struggle for years to quit, so why should we expect teens to do it in a day? Our brains are still developing, meaning we are more likely to form a quick addiction. If you or someone you know needs help quitting, remember that being supportive can lead to stopping. There is always someone who will be there for you on your journey to quit, I believe in you!