Students on the Troy campus have caught on to the emerging trend of vaping or smoking e-cigarettes. According to a 2016 report by the United States Surgeon General, e-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco product among teens.
Unlike cigarettes and other tobacco products, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); thus the packing labels do not have warning labels like traditional tobacco products.
“Juuling” is a term derived from the name of the company JUUL that makes e-cigarettes shaped like USB drives which can be charged while plugged into a computer.
The FDA cracked down on the company, seizing thousands of documents in a raid of its headquarters in October.
According to a New York Times report, the FDA was primarily concerned with whether the company was intentionally marketing to minors.
JUUL and e-cigarette users often argue that the product does not contain tobacco like regular cigarettes and is thus safer.
Various studies, though, say otherwise.
According to the Harvard University health blog, chronic nicotine exposure can cause the body to resist insulin and cause type II diabetes.
Furthermore, nicotine may can also hamper prefrontal brain development in adolescents, leading to attention deficit disorder and poor impulse control.
While Troy remains a smoke-free campus, there has been a surge in the number of students smoking e-cigarettes. These are easier to conceal and can even be taken into classrooms, making regulating the product almost impossible at times.
Companies like JUUL will always find a way to create new products which defy existing regulations and market them to customers. The same principle which advances medical technology also gives rise to products like e-cigarettes that can be harmful to teenagers and young adults.
Intentionally targeting a vulnerable demographic with a nicotine-laced product is a moral question which these companies have to answer, and steps need to be taken to put checks on this practice.
While organizations do not have to adopt a parenting attitude in telling teenagers what is and is not OK, it is their responsibility to ensure that accurate information about their product is communicated to potential customers.
Institutions further have a responsibility to inform and educate students on the true realities of the product they are consuming, so they can see beyond the flashy marketing campaigns.
Preventing people from using e-cigarettes is likely to lead to further rebellious usage. Educating them on its effects, on the other hand, may not drive the right choice, but it will at least lead to an informed one.