Vaping has become an epidemic around the world – especially among the world’s youth. According to the Surgeon General, e-cigarette and vaping use by high-school-aged children in the US increased by over 75% from 2017 to 2018. Vaping has skyrocketed at middle and high schools due to marketing directed at teens, discreet devices that are easy to hide and peer pressure. Luckily, schools are fighting back against vaping with measures such as bans, vape detectors and lawsuits against major vaping companies such as JUUL.
Statistics on Young People Vaping
While consumers of all ages use e-cigarette and vaping devices, they are especially common among youth. A national survey in 2019 found that over five million teens and young people are currently using e-cigarettes, with over one million using the JUUL brand specifically. Over 37% of seniors surveyed said they used vapes or e-cigarettes in 2018, up from about 28% in 2017. It is critical to keep vaping devices out of the hands of children and teens. Despite vaping product manufacturers marketing their items as safe, healthy and clean in the past, studies have shown these products to contain harmful chemicals.
Over 99% of vaping cartridges contain nicotine. Nicotine at an early age could negatively impact brain development and increase the risk of tobacco use in the future. Furthermore, one Harvard study found diacetyl in more than 75% of flavored e-cigarette liquids tested. Diacetyl is the chemical behind the chronic respiratory disease bronchiolitis obliterans, better known as popcorn lung. This is an irreversible condition. The chemicals in vaping devices also caused 68 deaths as of February 2020 due to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named EVALI: e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. Young people have a lot to lose in choosing to vape.
Measures Schools Are Taking to Combat Vaping
Schools across multiple states are taking a stand against vaping. With deadly lung illnesses such as EVALI spreading awareness of the potential risks of e-cigarette and vaping use, more schools have taken aggressive steps toward eliminating these devices on campus. Many schools have ramped up their efforts to detect vaping devices, while others have hired addiction counselors and started to teach students about the risks of e-cigarettes in health classes.
Schools are not alone in their anti-vaping efforts. Students are also taking initiative. Students in schools throughout California, for example, have created anti-vaping apps, anti-vaping clubs, and drug awareness assemblies for students and parents. Legislative changes against vaping in several states are now supporting these schools and students. In California, for example, new laws classify vaping products as tobacco products and increase the purchasing age to 21.
Money Spent on Vape Detectors
One way in which some schools are combatting vaping is by installing expensive vape detectors in places where students are most likely to use these devices, such as bathrooms. Schools in the Wasatch School District in Utah, for instance, spent nearly $40,000 on vape detectors. Wasatch High School says it had 25 detections in the first month but none after that. The Grand School District spent more than $7,000 on vape sensors as well. These are just two examples of the efforts schools across the US have made to put an end to vaping among youth.
School Districts File Lawsuits Against JUUL
Several school districts are going straight to the source of the problem. They are tackling major e-cigarette and vaping companies such as JUUL through the legal system. JUUL is currently under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration for advertising its vaping products as safer than traditional cigarettes. Represented by personal injury attorneys from Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP, school districts in California and other states have filed lawsuits against JUUL and other e-cigarette manufacturers for alleged torts such as gross negligence, being a public nuisance by creating youth nicotine addictions and racketeering. Lawsuits against e-cigarette companies could institute changes in this industry that ultimately save lives.