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The popularity of Juul and electronic cigarettes is on the rise among adolescents. Some are starting as young as eighth grade, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The NIDA also found that males are using these products at twice the rate of females, and 30% of users are transitioning to cigarettes within six months. Concerns have grown recently, as a California man was reported as the seventh vape-related death in the United States. These fatalities are among 380 reported cases nationally of e-cigarette-related lung illnesses.

According to a press release from the office of Gavin Newsom, governor of California, the state is making substantial efforts to counter the trend with proposals to increase taxes on e-cigarettes to match that of cigarettes. Newsom condemns the targeting of a younger audience with fruit-flavored vaping devices.

“As a parent, I understand the anxiety caused by the deceptive marketing tactics and flavored options designed to target our kids. With mysterious lung illnesses and deaths on the rise, we have to educate our kids and do everything we can to tackle this crisis. There is a broad and bipartisan coalition of legislators seeking to protect our youth, and we are committed to working with the Legislature and stakeholders to build on these executive actions and put forward a strong tobacco reform package in 2020," Newsom said.

Nicotine companies have fired back claiming that e-cigarettes are an effective option for people trying to quit traditional cigarettes. Meanwhile health officials across the country are warning young people of the risks of e-cigarettes.

Karen Haught, Tulare County public health officer, spoke about this risks of vaping.

“The long-term effects of vaping on health are unknown. Anyone considering vaping should be aware of the serious potential risks associated with vaping,” Haught said.

True as it may be that the long term data is unavailable, Ray Niaura, professor of health at NYU, is a little sceptical towards this “crisis.”  

“The reports of severe lung illnesses were from unregulated e-cigarettes.” Niaura said.

Washburn Student Media talked to students around campus to get some insights into the reasons for e-cigarette use. Most students did not want full names associated with their quotes.  

“It helps me wake up and get going in the mornings, it’s relaxing and makes me feel good,” said Dalton, sophomore nursing major.

“I used to smoke cigarettes and I used the Juul to get off as the lesser of the two I suppose,” said Wyatt, junior business major.

“It makes me feel good and fit in,” said Jaydin, exploratory freshman.

An anonymous freshman source explained their thoughts on the issue.

“I think the biggest appeal of it to me is that you can enjoy a nicotine buzz without the gross connotations associated with smoking. I think the convenience is also a huge boost, as there is no need for ash trays or lighters just one easy to carry device.”

Perhaps e-cigarettes are not as dangerous as health agencies are claiming, but they're certainly more harmful than nicotine companies and many young people believe. The truth will only emerge as long term studies from independent medical boards and leading university health departments can investigate the effects without corporate money or pressure from nicotine companies to yield favourable results.   

Editors note: Student sources wished to remain named only by their first name.

Edited by Adam White, Jessica Galvin, Brianna Smith, Shelby Hanson 

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