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The Foreword

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The Student News Site of Allderdice High School

The Foreword

The Student News Site of Allderdice High School

The Foreword

Nicotine Usage and the Teenage Perspective

(Rand Corporation)

Using the bathroom between periods, under most circumstances, is uncomfortable for a majority of people. You walk in, and there’s a crowd of students using it like Allderdice’s own smoking lounge. When I go in and see my peers doing this, the question arises of how it starts. So, I asked: “Hey man, how did this start for you?” I usually get similar responses. “Oh, my friend vaped and he gave me one.” Or, “I don’t know, I just hung around in the bathroom with my friends – kind of like how you are now.” 

The American psyche has debased the glamor and fashion of cigarettes and smoking at large, this much is true. Elementary and middle school health classes have had an emphasis put on the dangers of tobacco and nicotine consumption at large yet these seem to have missed the mark. Americans on average smoke ten times less than other developed countries such as Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom.Yet, our youth still indulge.

It’s not hard to see why teenagers engage in nicotine consumption – they don’t see immediate negative effects. It’s a dopamine rush – instant gratification. Nicotine is a stimulant, a benefit to focus and a relaxing charm imposed on the consumer. In this lens, there should be no surprise why these rapid and seemingly positive results are appealing. When you go to class and sit there for forty minutes expecting to pay attention to every minute and irrelevant detail, do it again and again, who wouldn’t want an easy way out?

It’s the same thing as stamping your foot when you’re bored, or having a stick of gum handy just to get some stimulation so you don’t sit and look blankly at your instructor like many of us do. And sure, this is all anecdotal, but 11% of Middle and High Schoolers have used a tobacco product in the past month. This statistic is possibly higher, as you can’t account for unreported consumption. 

And so, as an anonymous source of mine goes, “I don’t really care. I’m gonna vape and that’s where I’m at.” I can only think about how true that conviction might be. So what if a health teacher tells you it’s bad, and tells you that your lung will shrivel and turn black if you don’t see the immediate danger? If your friends do it, why shouldn’t you?

“Alright then, what’s the solution?” You might now be asking me. Well, there won’t be one. Idle hands and empty pockets will always create a drive to go out and find what they lack. Ours is a society where big tobacco has been blessed with more money than God, and now that we have dried the well of adult markets by making cigarettes no longer a chic accessory and working man’s essential, they’ve moved onto new and more receptive markets.

“If you’re going to vape, why not just smoke cigarettes?” I asked another friend. “They’re gross, they taste like cement, and they’re packed full with chemicals.” He responds. What an absolute subversion of classic Americana. Shenzhen iMiracle and Shenzhen Innokan have capitalized in American markets following the collapse of the Juul. Of course these products aren’t healthier than smoking a million chemicals out of a Newport, but what sounds more appealing? Would you rather smoke a piece of paper that tastes like the roadside, or would you rather smoke an abstract idea like “Cool Summer’s Breeze” or “New Car Smell” that actually tastes like how it’s marketed?

Give children candy and they’ll eat it, give children cheap, disposable Chinese chemicals that give a little buzz and a little tingle and the flavor of a Jolly Rancher and then question “Why is this problem so widespread!?” Well, the silver lining is that it probably won’t last forever. In 2018, 61.7% of adults who’ve ever smoked successfully quit, with more research coming out about the dangers of nontraditional nicotine delivery systems. Phillip Morris’s Zyns have revolutionized oral tobacco by removing the tobacco and making a pouch that’s only nicotine salts and flavored. If you’d like to pick your choice of gum recession, then you can do it in coffee, peppermint, spearmint, wintergreen, citrus, and cinnamon flavors. 

Unless limitation is imposed on targeted marketing and delivery to minors by our own government, this will continue unhindered until vaping as a medium becomes “uncool” and some new fad rolls along delivering the same thing with a fresh coat of paint. Rules will be ignored, security bypassed and our youth will continue to lay victim to these machines.

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