A Re-examination on the progression of teen-vaping
A deep inhale absorbed into the body and crippled the lungs as he drew again on the unknown nicotine solution travelling through the core of our most valuable resource-- You. The numbers continue to increase. The students continue to struggle. The community is now becoming aware. The statistics. The research. The outcry. It’s all getting louder.
The next generation of addicts are on the rise while community leaders and concerned citizens are searching for a solution to end this detrimental cycle that has been part of our world since the beginning of mankind-- addiction.
“By the 8th grade, 52% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 41% have smoked cigarettes and 20% have used marijuana,” according to 2012 research done by the Newport Academy that focuses on teen addiction therapy.
From pipes to cigars and cigarettes to Juuls, America has been confronted with tobacco addiction. When a product is proven to cause horrible side effects a new “solution” is proposed.
“There was a billion dollar settlement with Big Tobacco. That’s where all the warning labels on cigarettes and on chew came from because Big Tobacco marketed it to kids. They lied. They sat in front of Congress and lied for years saying it is not harmful, it doesn't cause cancer, and they continued to lie,” GLSD Resource Officer and former PA State Trooper Robert Daerr explained. “The initial marketing for E-cigarettes was for smokers to stop smoking to give them what they consider a healthy alternative. I truly believe and I think Congress believes that it is an epidemic. I mean it’s all over the news. It has been marketed to kids, and it’s bad. I mean you see the kid’s everywhere.”
Currently the JUUL Lab company based out of San Francisco is facing a class action lawsuit from both parents and Juul users that allege the company illegally marketed their multi-flavored vape product to minors. The Federal Drug Administration has responded by putting restrictions on the flavorings available in stores where minors are present. The FDA’s goal is to limit the number of minors getting addicted to nicotine products by making them less accessible for purchase, but it is unclear if this solution will truly fix the addiction problem.
“If you talk to smokers it’s all a reflexive habit of having something in their hand, taking it to their mouth. That is the habit to break: not having something. Chew is the same way and that's also why people chew gum,” GLSD Resource Officer John Zalich added. “My dad was a smoker until he had a stroke. He would carry around a drinking straw that he pushed paper towels into. If he felt the urge he would pull it out and draw on it and get that negative affect.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of all smokers have tried to quit but find it nearly impossible to stop.
“I was a big time smoker, it’s always something in your hand. That’s hard to break. It’s hard,” GLSD Resource Officer Tom Spallone explained. “You know how hard it is to quit. My dad had cancer. He was a smoker and had throat cancer. He got out of the hospital and he tried to smoke after he had the operation. He actually tried to smoke after he had that operation.”
In an effort to help young smokers and vapers overcome their addiction a new program by the Truth Initiative, a non-profit tobacco control organization, provides a free program that combines positive words of encouragement and powerful statistics sent directly to a user’s phone. This anonymous and free text message program was created by former addicts and teens who have dealt with the struggle of addiction. The idea is to provide daily words of encouragement tailored specifically to age in order to give proper recommendations and special resources. In order to sign up for this very unique program all one has to do is text “QUIT” to (202) 804-9884. The Truth Initiative focuses on informing users about the risks and consequences of different tobacco products.
Similar to the Truth Initiative, the GLSD resource officers all agree that the best solution is a well informed society.
“I think the solution that we all agree on is education. They think they are doing something better by choosing to use that (JUUL) versus the old fashioned smoking. They think they are not inhaling the smoke into their lungs. I think the best solution just like anything else is educating yourself. There really are no pros to it. There aren't many studies out there for long term effects and you really don't know what you're getting. Think about it. Just like everything. When you go to buy a car or you look at shoes or clothes you look at the pros and you look at the cons. There are none to that. There are no pros,” Officer Daerr said.
Another major impact that’s perhaps the biggest cause of teen addiction is peer pressure. According to a study done by USC, a teen is more likely to vape if a friend or relative is already using an e-cigarette.
“I’ve got an older boy that's at Seton Hill and they are passing it around. You don't know what you are getting. You are trusting who knows who sitting next to you, and half the time you don't know who is next to you at these parties and they are passing this and it could have anything in it. I mean you could put anything from fentanyl to regular nicotine or to the juices and flavors they put in there,” explained Officer Daerr.
On Jan. 23, six teenagers at a New Mexico high school were hospitalized after the group of friends became severely ill after vaping marijuana wax. While no permanent injuries were caused, the accident has drawn attention to the serious issue taking place throughout America’s schools. Resource Officer Robert Daerr provided sound advice for all students to consider.
“Stay around positive people. One bad friend in a group of 10 young men or young women can be a poison. One. All you have to do is taint one and two to three to four. Bad decisions. We’ve seen it for how many years as troopers. 25 years of bad decisions. Everybody makes bad decisions, but some are life changing. Even too much of a good thing can be bad,” said Officer Robert Daerr.
With information readily available at the touch of a button, all people should know the serious risks of vaping. It is our responsibility to be informed, to be alert, and to help educate one another. Stand up to addiction.
In the Latrobe Community and across the country more and more teenagers are choosing to tattoo themselves as a form of self-expression. According to a 2017 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, more young people are choosing to get tattoos and piercings than ever before. It is important for all consumers to be aware of the regulations, risks, and regrets that may come with any permanent decision.
While state laws vary regarding minors and tattoos, Pennsylvania law requires that a parent be present and give written consent before the tattooing procedure takes place.
“Having a parent or guardian signature for a contract of sale regarding a minor is very common. It makes complete sense that a tattoo shop would require this signature. It ensures that a parent/guardian is aware of the risks, and limits the shop's liability from being sued,” said GLSD law teacher Mrs. Kara Leeper.
Despite PA law that attempts to prevent minors from regretting a lifelong decision, the statistics on tattoo regret are high.
78% of people who have a tattoo end up regretting the decision according to an Advanced Dermatology polling of 600 tattoo consumers. The research done by Advanced Dermatology even breaks down how soon the consumer starts to dislike their tattoo and the results show that 51% of people regret their decision in just a year or less.
The study also analyzes why each consumer has regret. With 40% of consumers disliking the appearance of their tattoo and 31% no longer relating to it’s significance anymore, this permanent decision is not one to rush, yet “three out of four people who suffer from tattoo regret didn't plan for the tattoo beyond a few weeks,” according to Advanced Dermatology's 2019 study.
Despite high numbers of regret among tattoo consumers, the majority of individuals who attribute significant meaning to their tattoo, are less likely to dislike their decision later in life.
“The main reason for the tattoo on my shoulder was because I had a wrestling coach that passed away and he really influenced me in life so I figured I’d get a tattoo for him,” said GLSD junior Brady Johnson.
While there are many instances where tattoo consumers relate personal and touching stories to their tattoos, the majority of tattoo consumers will end up regretting their tattoo in the long run.
GLSD Senior Matthew Hess recently made the decision to purchase a tattoo on his wrist. With a written note from his mother, Hess’s wrist was inscribed with cursive font that reads “Rat Pack” for the famous 1960 band featuring Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.
While Hess is adamant that his love for the “Rat Pack” will never grow old, he has a plan in place if regret surfaces.
“If I want to get it removed I will just go get laser tattoo removal one day,” said Hess.
While laser clinics and dermatology centers are becoming less obsolete with a 400% increase over the last decade, the process isn't as simple or painless as one might believe and one should be prepared for a hefty bill with the average revenue generated by laser tattoo removal at $1,400 per patient. (2017 report by Fresh Start Laser Tattoo Removal Clinic)
“Depending on the tattoo design, size and color, it may take 1-10 laser sessions to remove the ink. Some colors of ink are harder to remove than others and may not be able to be completely removed. There should be a six-week time period between each laser session to allow the wounds to heal and the body to absorb as much of the ink as is possible. Many patients describe it as like having a heavy rubber band snapped against the skin repeatedly, ” according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
While getting a tattoo is less painful than having one removed, both processes require the use of needles which introduce possible health concerns and skin irritation.
“I got my tattoo and eventually it started peeling because that's what happens when you get a tattoo, and you're supposed to just leave it alone but I decided to peel it and it ended up scarring. It pulled back a bunch of skin and made a scar on top of this one spot on my tattoo,” said Hess.
While Hess suffered from both skin irritation and scarring, he didn’t experience other serious complications that may occur.
“In anything you do to break your skin there is always a risk of infection, becoming infected with a bloodborne pathogen, Hepatitis, HIV and Aids are a concern of course with blood, but Hepatitis is big and real and that would be my main concern with tattoos,” GLHS Nurse Tami Zezza said.
As a young adult Nurse Zezza was drawn to the appeal of tattoos as a form of rebellion, but in time the appeal faded and her stance on tattoos changed.
“When I was young and in my 20’s I thought about getting a tattoo and even went to a tattoo parlor and picked out the one I wanted. I am so glad I didn't do it. For many reasons I am glad I didn't do it. Honestly the allure for me to get one was because when my mom didn't approve of it--I thought I want to get a tattoo--and then one day she said go ahead and do what you want and then the appeal stopped for me."
After being educated on the risks and pursuing an active career in nursing, her advice for prospective tattoo consumers is not to get one.
“I would say don’t get a tattoo. You have to live with it for life and what you want today at your 18 or 21 year old self, when you became old like me, like the Betty Boop on your wrist isn't going to be your favorite thing and they are hard to remove and they are painful to remove even though you can, and I know it’s a creative form of expression but I would say do lots of research if you are going to definitely get tattooed,” Zezza said.
With tattoos as a popular rising form of self-expression, any prospective consumer should be educated and know the possible risks, regulations, and regrets that can occur when precautions and concerns are unknown or not followed.