OPINION: Students need to take vaping more seriously

Vaping on college campuses is still a problem in spite of prevention efforts, and students need to acknowledge their addictions and seek help. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FLICKR/VAPES

E-cigarettes were originally marketed toward smokers as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, but in recent years, vaping has become an epidemic of its own — especially among college students.

School officials and health care workers are taking this problem seriously, and vaping has been banned on many college campuses, including USF. However, many students still refuse to comply with this rule. It’s time for students to take this issue seriously, stop vaping and seek help.

Despite efforts to deter young people from e-cigarette use, the vaping crisis across the country doesn’t show signs of stopping any time soon. Over 97% of college students reported using e-cigarettes or other vape products at least once in their lives, according to a 2021 survey of 33,204 students by the American College Health Association. More than 75% of these students reported use within the last three months.

Despite being advertised as a safer alternative to cigarettes, vaping actually poses many of the same health risks.

Those who vape are likely to experience the same increased heart rate and blood pressure as cigarette smokers, according to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Physiology. E-cigarettes may also be more likely to cause cardiovascular disease than traditional cigarettes.

In addition to this, vaping is associated with a myriad of mental health issues. These include anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a 2021 study published in the National Library of Medicine.

The nicotine in e-cigarettes is also extremely addictive, making it hard for people to quit even if they know the detrimental effects, according to a 2019 study by Yale Medicine. Those under 25 are even more prone to these effects, as their brains are still developing.

Fortunately, there are resources for those who are looking to quit vaping. One of these is the anonymous texting program called This is Quitting which has helped over 500,000 people.

To enroll in this program, users can text DITCHVAPE to 88709.

“Once you sign up, you tell us how old you are. What type of e-cigarette you use, where you are on the quitting journey. We send you back motivation, inspiration, tips and strategies, ways to build your confidence and learn skills to get through cravings and stressful situations without vaping,” Megan Jacobs, a representative from the campaign, said.

Parker Kerns is one of the many college students that have been able to successfully quit with this program.

“I realized that there were some negative implications I didn’t know existed before. It affected my anxiety, stress [and] depression. Basically my entire mental health was just declining and I was addicted,” Kerns said in a Nov. 13 interview with Fox 13.

Vaping addiction is a staggering problem with severe health risks. Many adults are acknowledging the risks and imposing bans and restrictions.

It’s time for students to do the same by acknowledging the effects of vaping and seeking help if they do have an addiction.