The Accessibility of Vape Products to Youth in Our Community: A Closer Look at the Consequences

Jan 16, 2024

– Authored by the CADY YAAC (Communities for Alcohol and Drug-Free Youth), (Youth Advocacy and Advisory Council)

CADY YAAC blog spot photoThis blog is authored by the CADY YAAC, a group of student leaders from Plymouth Regional High School. The Advisory Council is a platform created to empower youth to take positive action and make a difference in their environment. Specifically focused on addressing problems related to substance misuse, these high school students are actively working towards being part of the solution. Read on for their unique perspective on the impact of youth vaping within their community. We can’t thank them enough for their contribution to The Partnership’s blog series!

Since the launch of the JUUL in 2015, the vaping industry has exploded. While originally designed to help people who smoke cigarettes quit, they had the opposite effect on the teenage and young adult population. Vaping companies, like JULL, claimed that their use of vibrant advertisements and well-known influencers wasn’t geared towards teens, yet the widespread popularity of vaping among this group proved otherwise. This accusation was subsequently proven in court, resulting in a settlement agreement for $462 million dollars distributed amongst 47 states and territories. Between social media, influencer endorsements and targeted marketing, vaping was seen as the “cool” thing to do, with many people (adults and youth) believing that they were simply inhaling “flavored vapor” or “water vapor”, unaware that this was not true and of the health risks that could lie ahead.

Despite laws preventing minors from buying tobacco and nicotine products, many still manage to get their hands on them. Social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok became platforms for them to connect with “plugs,” individuals who supply these products. This highlights the importance of stricter enforcement and community efforts to stop underage access and encourage a healthier environment for youth.

Vaping teenager. Young white girl smokes an electronic cigarette  in vape bar. Bad habitPossibly one of the most concerning parts of vaping is its direct link to future substance use. Supporting this claim, one study revealed that high school students who used vapes in the last month were approximately seven times more likely to report smoking cigarettes about six months later compared to non-users. Data from the 2021 New Hampshire Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) reveals a troubling trend, with 31% of students in grades 9–12 reporting having used electronic vape products. These alarming statistics emphasize the critical need for prevention efforts to keep youth from initiating vaping.

The negative effects of vaping extend beyond future substance use. Vaping is associated with increased blood pressure and heightened risk of heart attacks. Beyond the physical harm, it adversely impacts mental health, increasing stress, anxiety, and depression. Starting vaping at a young age can stunt brain development, leading to difficulties in decision-making and impulse control, ultimately contributing to mood disorders.

The surge in teen vaping, driven by flashy marketing, is a serious health issue. The connection between vaping and future substance use, along with other health risks, calls for quick preventive action. As a community, we can focus on education, enforce strict rules, and have open discussions with young people. Together, we can guide them toward healthier choices and ensure a safer future.

Interested in learning more? Check out the Save Your Breath campaign for further reading, partner resources, and tools for how to quit.


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