Vaping: A Bathroom Epidemic


According to Mötley Crüe in their 1985 song, Smoking in the Boys Room, “…everybody knows that smokin’ ain’t allowed in school.” 36 years later, it seems not everyone got the memo.

Smoking at school is still a relevant and ever present problem, making the bathrooms reek with obnoxious nicotine-infused clouds of stink. Mötley Crüe’s lyrics still rings true today, only the cigarettes of old have been replaced by something far more mechanical, but just as deadly and addictive. In fact, vape usage has overtaken cigarettes in popularity amongst teens in recent years, so while cigarette usage among teens has dropped, the use of vapes has skyrocketed.

Vapes, E-Cigs, E-Pipes, JUULs, vape tanks, vape pods, vape pens, whatever you choose to call them, all work in relatively the same way. A pod with fluid containing nicotine e-juice gets heated by a battery, which vaporizes the liquid for inhalation. According to Singlecare, the ‘smoke’ from a vape is in fact, aerosolized vapor. E-juice is composed of nicotine, flavoring, propylene glycol (used to tingle the throat), and glycerin (produces large clouds). According to the American Lung Association , trace amounts of extremely dangerous chemicals such as acrolein (herbicide), diacetyl, diethylene glycol (can cause bronchitis), and benzene (found in car exhaust) can be found in vape clouds, and there are many other chemicals that appear in small amounts as well. 

So why do people vape if it is so detrimental to health? According to the CDC, it has been revealed teens have begun vaping largely due to curiosity (55.3%), family usage (30.8%), and flavors (22.4%), while the remaining 21.2% started vaping to do tricks.  

One common misconception is that vapes are safer than cigarettes since there is no actual tobacco being used, but this is not true. 99% of vapes, even non-nicotine vapes, have some nicotine by-product in them according to the CDC

The amount of nicotine in vapes that say they contain nicotine can be controlled with ease and increased to amounts hard to replicate in a cigarette. According to rally health, it has been described that there is an arms race between different companies to put more nicotine into their products.

The amount of nicotine in a vape is more equal to a cigar, rather than a cigarette. However, according to PIH Health, cigar smoke stays in the mouth while cigarette smoke gets pulled into the lungs. Therefore, people get a buzz from cigarettes quicker than from cigars even though there is far less nicotine in a single cigarette. Vape smoke travels easily to the lungs, and the amount of nicotine is much higher, therefore making the vapes more addictive, since people get relief faster. Vapes are also more dangerous since the amount of nicotine delivered to the user is much higher than conventional forms of smoking.

While cigarettes and cigars obviously contain nicotine, the nicotine in vapes is in fact worse. Surprisingly, the nicotine found in vapes can be more easily absorbed into the bloodstream since it is synthetic, which in turn makes vapes more addictive because the user feels the buzz quicker. This also makes vapes more addictive.

Unlike cigarettes, which are produced by a few companies that are heavily regulated by the government, vapes are produced by many companies and the regulations are struggling to keep up with the changes. It took the FDA seven years to categorize vapes as tobacco products, and the novel nature of vapes made instant regulation tough in a system of thick bureaucracy. Since vaping has become an epidemic in recent years, the government has tightened restrictions on vape sales and manufacturing. In addition to government regulations, the public has been made aware of the harms of vaping through public campaigns such as “The Real Cost” and “Don’t Blow It”. As a result of these public outreach campaigns, the amount of new underage vape users has dropped the past year by about one percent. 

In the end, it would be futile to beg people not to vape. While it is true the amount of teens who use vapes have leveled out and actually decreased since 2019, a lot of young people will try it and get hooked. Currently, the best thing that can be done to stop the spread of vaping is prevention and education. 

In the meantime, all we can do is sit and endure the fumes.