A troublesome, ridiculous, worthless little habit is worming its way into the culture of America’s youth.
That would be “vaping,”or the use of e-cigarettes, which is skyrocketing in popularity among the teen crowd even as traditional smoking has declined.
A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the use of e-cigarettes among high schoolers has risen from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 13.4 percent in 2014, an 857 percent increase in three years.
Meanwhile, cigarette smoking over that same period has fallen from 15.8 percent to 9.2 percent.
Some people would have you believe that in total, this is good news, because it shows traditional smoking is declining among youths.
While that may be the case for some proportion of the overall numbers of kids who use one product or the other, certainly many others who never would have started at all now have joined the crowd because vaping is becoming the cool thing to do.
And on their face, e-cigarettes have all the hallmarks of a vice marketed for mass consumption by teens, including fun,
colorful packaging and a variety of flavors that are straight out of the candy shop.
I was looking at one vaping website that advertises a vast array broken down into categories including tobacco, menthol, fruits, desserts, coffees, beverages and cigars.
“Delicious cobblers, candies and chocolates with zero calories and zero guilt,” the site proclaims.
A teen can try the enticing flavors of “sinfully rich dark chocolate raspberry” or “vape cinnamon roll all day long and never get sticky fingers.” They can vape their favorite Starbucks drink or a veritable rainbow of tropical fruit flavors.
Even better, they could pick the flavor of “a perfectly mixed margarita” and get an early start on developing a taste for booze at the same time! Now that’s efficiency.
I get why kids might be lured by tasty options like this, but it boggles my mind that blowing nicotine-laden steam out of a battery-powered tube is actually becoming trendy.
You’ve seen people doing this, puffing mango-scented clouds out of their cigar-sized kits. They look like they’re sucking on a kazoo. It’s goofy.
It’s also offensive and annoying in any kind of public place to those who have no interest in exposing their bodies to someone else’s chemical exhaust.
And while it may help a longtime Marlboro addict reduce his health risk, it’s doing no good for young people who’ve never smoked before, other than maybe help them fit in with a crowd they’re better off avoiding anyhow.
For teens, scientific evidence has shown nicotine affects neurological development. Certainly there’s a possibility that inhaling a vaporized form of the chemical could cause longer-term cardiovascular damage as well.
Then, there’s the potential that once they become addicted to the nicotine, young people could eventually add regular cigarettes to their repertoire, real cigarettes being cooler than fake ones, right?
In every way, shape and form, the rise in teen vaping is a disturbing trend.
So it is encouraging that the state and municipalities such as San Luis Obispo are treating it as such, restricting where it can be used.
But more is needed, including a ban on sales to minors.
The Food and Drug Administration is looking into that possibility and would best hurry up with it before the numbers that increased nearly ninefold in three years accelerate further.