What is Generation Z’s return to nicotine use born from, and what does it mean?

By Piper Sartison

Elm Staff Writer

Despite previous anti-nicotine advertisements that have surfaced throughout the decades, young adults remain addicted to the substance, and nicotine addiction among Generation Z is steadily increasing across North America.

According to the CDC, there are numerous potential dangers of consuming e-cigarettes. One of the main concerns of vaping is the production of harmful aerosol particles, which contain many chemicals and can do significant harm to our lungs.

In a recent study published in The Guardian, “more than a third of young adults are using e-cigarettes and almost three-quarters of parents suspect their child is vaping.”

The rise in nicotine addiction among young adults may be connected to the consumption and production of the product. In an article published by The Guardian, Natasha May writes that young people are more inclined to ignore the danger because vapes are so easy to buy.

E-cigarettes of a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors can be purchased at seemingly any gas station across the world.

May said that although it is illegal to sell nicotine products to underage people, companies have found loopholes, as they are “bypassing regulations by labelling e-cigarettes ‘nicotine-free’ despite them containing nicotine.”

Younger consumers of the product may reassure themselves that they are not inhaling chemicals, and are instead breathing in a nicotine-free substance. In reality, however, they may be causing significant harm to their lungs.

When looking at the marketing of e-cigarettes, consumers can note the branding that companies are catering to. As May said, “an increasing number of stores are opening across Australia displaying colorful, often international lolly brands in their windows. Some stores are across the road from schools.”

Overall, the production and the advertisements of nicotine products contribute significantly to the increase in the chemical’s popularity.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are more than 460 different brands of e-cigarettes. “Some research shows that many teens do not even realize that vaping cartridges contain nicotine, and assume the pods contain only flavoring.”

Throughout the decades, nicotine pods across North America were flavored as strawberry, mango, cherry cola, and even chocolate milk in certain brands. When looking at these flavors, one can assume that these companies are targeting children.

According to Professor Simone Pettigrew from the George Institute for Global Health for May, “children whose brains were still developing formed stronger addictions to nicotine than adults who were trying an addictive substance for the first time.”

Additionally, May states that children are inclined to vape during stressful and overwhelming moments. This high level of dependency will only make the process of weaning young adults off nicotine more difficult, as many have questioned the option of closing vape stores and banning the substance completely across the United States.

Questions remain on how to handle the rise in nicotine addiction among the younger generation however, there has been a lack of action in addressing this issue within America.

Vaping among the younger generation is an issue that must be addressed. The long-term effects of consuming these chemicals are unknown, as the generation before us were not inhaling these specific types of harmful aerosols. Recent studies and stories have surfaced, covering tragic stories in which young people were hospitalized from vaping. Without further action, more young adults will be exposed to the dangers of e-cigarette smoking, and the long-term effects remain unknown.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo caption: Nicotine and cigarette use has long been a contentious subject in American dialogues of socialization and health.

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