E-cigarette use declines for teenagers

If you were to walk the halls of Dana Hall’s Shipley Center in 2019, you would be surrounded by a plethora of posters educating you on the common facts and health risks of e-cigarettes. When you walk the halls today in 2021, you no longer see any of these posters.

The use of e-cigarettes by adults and adolescents has rapidly decreased within the past two years and is currently not a part of Dana Hall’s health curriculum. 2019 was the peak of vaping culture. Between August 2019 and February 2020 e-cigarette sales dropped from 22 million to 14.8 million.

In a 2019 nationwide survey by the CDC, 28% of high school students surveyed, more than 1 in 5, said that they used e-cigarettes. When this same survey was done again in 2021, 19.6% said that they used e-cigarettes.

According to Pia Manna, Director of Health Services, “Posters and class conversations were good ways for us to spread awareness on this situation a few years ago, though you couldn’t do that well on zoom, and coming back to school in person, everyone’s attention was redirected toward Covid-19. … The topic of vaping and e-cigarette use was put on a shelf.”

Eva Bogan ‘24 commented,  “Although e-cigarettes are not as common as they were a few years ago, it is still extremely important that you educate yourself on how they work, what risks they pose and what the consequences of using them are.”

“With the prominence of the virus within this past year, people have also spent less time together, lessening the opportunities for children and teens to use these devices with one another,” said Ms. Manna. 

With 2020 being a year of stay-at-home orders, school closures, and remote learning, parents have become more aware of e-cigarette use by their children.  

A source from the National Institute of Health noted, “People who engage in behavior that affects their lungs — including smoking and vaping — are at a higher risk of complications if they contract Covid-19.” Although there could be many reasons for the decrease in e-cigarette use, Ms. Manna believes that it is most likely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ms. Manna stated, “Covid-19 has led people to be much more health conscious and take a step away from smoking devices.”

“We need to continue this conversation and begin re-addressing issues that we put on a shelf during covid, e-cigarettes being one in particular,” Ms. Manna added. 

E-cigarettes, commonly referred to as vape pens, can come in many different shapes and sizes. While they may look different, most vaping devices work in a similar way. Puffing activates a battery-powered heating device. This heats the liquid in a cartridge, turning it into vapors that are inhaled.​ The inhaled vapors contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that can harm adolescent brain development.

Image Source: Centers for Disease Control

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