E-Cigarettes’ impact on our health and the environment
By Kayla Freeman, Contributor
Nicotine addiction is turning into a real problem, especially with the introduction of the vape. E-cigarettes, the Juul in particular, are appealing to younger generations since they are so compact and easily hidden. Moreover, apps like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat are allowing people to perpetuate the trend of vaping through trick videos and aesthetic vaping photography.
The convenient apparatus can provide users with an array of fruity flavours, making vapes seem like a more desirable alternative to the traditional cigarette.
An important characteristic of Juul is that it is aimed at reducing adult smoking, not teenage smoking. As a result, one Juul pod contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. This becomes problematic for young teens that may use Juul e-cigarettes socially and become addicted to nicotine. It can be easier to go through pods more rapidly than traditional cigarettes since the Juul eliminates obstacles such as needing a lighter and needing to go outside.
In addition to the harmful impacts on the body, the Juul creates waste. Many e-cigarettes, like the Juul, operate through what is known as a pod system. The pod system can have a refillable tank or, in the case of the Juul, need single pre-filled pods. The inevitable waste from this type of system results in the small pods ending up in the landfill.
E-cigarettes are a new fad of which the short and long-term repercussions remain unknown. What we do know is that increased plastic and chemicals are harmful to all living things. Juul pods are often thrown in gutters or onto the ground which creates a hazard for wildlife, domestic animals and marine life. The Juul, along with all other vapes, contain plastic, lithium batteries and other toxic chemicals in the device, and the e-juice.
Last January, McMaster became the first tobacco and smoke-free campus in Ontario. Despite this being a positive step for the future of the planet, it does not seem that much has been done to enforce this rule. Cigarette butts and Juul pods are often found littered across campus. E-cigarettes are commonly used inside of study rooms, dorm rooms and even libraries. The vapour produced from an e-cigarette is normally free of carbon dioxide and usually does not trigger fire alarms, prompting increased indoor usage.
An outright ban likely will have no effect on campus without enforcement of this rule. Perhaps rather than a prohibition, educating the student body may ultimately be a more reliable alternative to showcase the consequences of inhaling potentially dangerous substances. This will likely prove to have more success while giving young people to have increased agency over their own decisions when it comes to their health and the environmental impact of vaping.