“Just one drag”, that’s the anthem of the big tobacco companies. Their hope is that everyone who says this gets sucked into their marketed addiction. Cigarette smokers almost always start their addiction by saying “one little puff won’t hurt”. That first time experiencing the effects of nicotine comes in many forms, whether it be from a little puff from a friends E-cigarette, a little bit of tobacco rolled into a marijuana cigarette also known as a spliff, a little innocent experimentation with a cigarette stolen from parents, peer pressure from friends or simply wanting to look cool and be rebellious. Once an individual feels the euphoric light headedness that nicotine provides know as a nicotine rush or a nic buzz it becomes hard to say no to another one. Soon one little puff turns into a whole cigarette, then one turns into two, but only with friends, right? And at least you don’t buy your own so you can’t get addicted, you’ll just smoke them here and there; until two becomes three and so on; until eventually it turns into you buying your own pack for the first time and then soon enough you have to have one every morning with breakfast.
The most common cause of nicotine dependency in youth is a recent trend that began only a few years ago know as vaping, which is another word used to describe smoking an electronic cigarette. According to a report of the Surgeon General:
E-cigarette use among U.S. youth and young adults is now a major public health concern. E-cigarette use has increased considerably in recent years, growing an astounding 900% among high school students from 2011 to 2015. These products are now the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States, surpassing conventional tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and hookahs. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain. (SG pre face pg 7 par 1)
These statistics are concerning because this means that 900% more high school age adolescents are getting introduced to that highly addictive first nicotine buzz than before the invention and popularization of electronic cigarettes. What is even more concerning is that this age group is more susceptible to a lifelong nicotine dependency because they have less impulse control and money management skills than that of adults according to the report of the surgeon general; there is also a strong correlation between the use of electronic cigarettes and the eventual use of combustible tobacco. (SG 37)
The massive uptick in adolescence usage of nicotine products can be blamed on the fact that vaping has become far more socially acceptable and popular than its smelly tar producing counterpart tobacco. Vaping is seen by many as a healthy and clean alternative to smoking cigarettes and is perceived as having little or no consequences by those who are trying it for the first time and everyday users. The battle cry of the vapor industry is quite similar to that of tobacco: “it’s just water vapor!” which is partly true, it is just water vapor with numerous chemicals in it, including one that could have you hooked for life, nicotine.
Social norms and pressures can play a big role in getting someone hooked, take a party for example, most parties involve alcohol or some other form of intoxicant. When under the influence of any intoxication judgement and decision-making ability is drastically reduced the more inebriated an individual becomes. Most times where there is alcohol there are also people smoking cigarettes or even more common, vaping. This fact paired with the common social pressures of fitting in at a party or social gathering can easily create a situation where someone is presented with nicotine and then chooses to try it. This scenario usually hooks people on cigarettes faster than any other because nicotine enhances the feeling of being drunk, especially if it’s the first time experiencing the nicotine buzz, since nicotine builds a tolerance in the body it causes an individual to never feel a nicotine buzz as intense as the first time. This is why nicotine is so addictive, the first time is amazing and euphoric, then the intensity slowly fades with every puff. Smokers chase that feeling of the first time until eventually the buzz fades almost entirely, but the addiction continues because now the brain craves the chemical and needs it just to feel normal (find source).
The scientific evidence that tobacco Is detrimental to human health is undeniable. There is an obvious reason they are nicknamed cancer sticks they are simply a deadly vice. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths.” And “Smoking causes about 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease” (CDC). Not only can it give you a host of terminal diseases it can cause difficulty in conception and can cause birth defects, still birth, Sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, pre-mature birth, and ectopic pregnancy. (CDC par 51-56)
The addictive nature and massive effects on health make the issue of keeping youth and adults from trying that one puff extremely important, lives literally depend on it. Smoking is attributed to causing over 480,000 deaths each year in the United States, which is nearly 1 in 5 deaths (CDC par 4). Smoking causes more deaths yearly than HIV, alchohol, car crashes, injuries involving guns and drug use combined(CDC par 5-10). Something this deadly cannot be treated as harmless by anyone especially naïve youth. It needs to be known that one little puff almost certainly will indeed hurt you regardless of what anyone thinks or says. Although there is not much evidence to claim that vaping is as deadly as cigarettes since it is still a relatively new trend and all of the long and short-term effects on human health have not been discovered yet. I expect vaping will follow the same path as cigarettes; deemed healthy and socially acceptable at first and then later will be found to be one of the unhealthiest habits a human being can undertake.