Staff Editorial: We cannot afford to ignore vaping anymore

We all see it happening, we all know about it, some of us have even been a part of it. But none of us say anything — Why? 

“Because it’s not an issue.” “Because it’s not hurting anyone.” “Because it’s easier not to.” 

Everyone’s made these excuses, and everyone’s stayed silent, but now we’re beginning to pay the price. More and more young people are beginning to suffer the consequences of vaping, and this is after only a few years. From coughs and irritation to severe respiratory disease, the ill effects of vaping are beginning to rear their heads much sooner than those of smoking. While generally the ill effects of smoking take years to come into play, some who vage are beginning to experience symptoms after only a few years. 

As of now, there are over 450 cases of vape-related illness across the US. Four hundred and fifty. Along with that, five patients have died due to related issues. This is only what’s being tracked and directly connected. One of the most prominent cases is an 18-year-old from Illinois, who had only been vaping for two years. Barely able to breathe, he describes his lungs as “like a 70-year-old’s.” 

So if this is all happening, then why is nobody saying anything? Why isn’t anyone taking a stance? Even in a benign situation, why isn’t anything being done? 

It’s not that nobody sees the issue, people are speaking out. Doctors have been vocal about their uncertainties for years, the FDA has made pushes against vaping multiple times, even the CEO of Juul advised people, in a public apology, to not use the product. Even though the sincerity of his statements can be brought into question easily, it was still a comment which he projected to a national audience. Along with all of that, the president recently announced that plans are being made to ban flavored e-cigarettes, with any company producing them needing FDA approval. 

Of course, what has to be noted is that when Juul’s stock value decreased, tobacco companies’ increased. When one side falls, the other will rise, and the lengths that tobacco companies will go to when trying to stay relevant in an ever-changing environment has been shown endlessly. When studies against smoking come out, they have a rebuttal. When there have been movements to outlaw tobacco products, they have done everything in their power to keep that from happening. No matter what, they’ll try to find a way to come out on top, and with recent events, there’s going to be more effort than ever to bring their product around. Like always, they’ll work to breed a new generation of smokers, chained up in their perpetual get-rich-quick and get-dead-faster scheme. 

The answer isn’t that students are at fault. It’s not that we’re predisposed to brush it away. Instead, it’s what we’ve been told. We’ve heard that vaping is better than smoking, that it keeps people off of cigs, and that it’s even safe enough to have indoors. We see ads that promote it as a healthier alternative, that act like it’s a saviour to the nicotine-addicted masses, and since grew up being told that nothing is worse than smoking – not war, not starvation, not the plague – we believe that the choice to vape is a good one. Consciously or not, we assume that the only alternative to it is smoking. We forget that there’s an option to do nothing at all. 

And that option isn’t all that bad. Nicotine addiction is serious – it’s debilitating. It costs thousands, all of which goes into the pockets of the already-rich, corrupt CEOs whose entire goal is to pawn off that stuff onto the unsuspecting masses. 

The entire time, as we were taught to keep “dangerous toxins” out of our bodies, we only learned to look out for one. From that, we decided that the other ones must be okay, if only because they’re keeping away a greater evil. What happened is that we forgot that the ‘greater evil’ was, for the most part, gone. We just see it as a constant, and assume that anything we’re told can counteract it will do just that. 

We’ve been told to view the world in one way, and in the face of change, we’re paying the price.