There are three major constants in the world: death, taxes and kids wanting nicotine. Not only is nicotine a highly-addictive drug, but it holds the position of being one of the most glamorized socially. There was a long period of time in which smoking cigarettes was as common as drinking coffee. That’s gone away for the most part with decades of literature on the harmful long-term effects. It took a while for this knowledge to reach the public, as tobacco companies actively suppressed it. However, nicotine has made its way back into the mainstream with the new trend in vaping. Just like cigarettes, vaping is highly social and even more so in some ways. Reading the room, it seems as though a push for anti-vaping may occur soon, as it did for anti-tobacco. I think this move isn’t the most effective way to cut down on nicotine consumption and would most likely lead to kids getting their fix in other ways.
Vaping is cool, or so everyone I’ve ever met who vapes tells me. All of it is based around being part of a niche social group. Cigarettes are the same way. Smoking is a group activity and it bonds people. However, vaping seems to be even better in this regard. Unlike cigarettes, vapes are customizable and can be used practically anywhere without leaving odors or ashes. One can drop thousands on a single vape rig to achieve the most desirable puff. It’s all about status and peacocking. Nothing says “I have money to waste” more than spending nearly a hundred dollars on a single piece of a little cloud maker. There are even types of fruit and candy flavored vape juices, so that even people who hate the taste of cigarettes can get involved.
It’s understandable how kids and adults are able to get into the glamorized image of vaping. 15-year-olds just need their older brother to buy them their first rig and then wait for the highly-addictive nicotine to do its job. It’s fascinating how this technology originally came to be in the form of e-cigarettes, designed to help smokers ease off their addiction, and is now the major culprit in young people’s addiction to nicotine. However, part of the original culture that got people hooked on cigarettes in the first place was the fact that they help people deal with stress. It can be argued that this is partially why so many young people vape. Being in highschool and college is extremely stressful. People want nicotine because they are dependent on it for peace of mind. If it wasn’t helpful in that regard, they probably wouldn’t use it.
While anti-smoking campaigns of the past focused on marketing to change the image of smoking, the thing that they could never change about nicotine is that people abuse it just like any other drug. Those campaigns are certainly effective in scaring kids into never touching tobacco, as I remember crying when I first caught my older sister smoking. However, they don’t help kids deal with anxiety and stress which sends kids to nicotine abuse for help.
I don’t think there is anyone in the world who doesn’t know smoking is bad for your health. The campaigns have reached everyone. Yet people smoke all the same. Why? Well everyone has their own reasoning behind that choice. They know what decision they’re making. It could be that they have so much going on in their lives that they simply need to smoke to stay calm. The same can be said for vaping. Spreading propaganda about the evils of vaping may scare some kids and even educate the ignorant, which would be helpful, but it won’t fix why people vape. For that, there are major systemic changes that would need to take effect. For one, Americans work too much compared to the rest of the world, and because of that we consume more cigarettes than Europe. Our mental health system is absolute garbage and people are extremely prone to stress while getting no help. There are so many things that need to be fixed to actually stop people from being dependent on nicotine.
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