Amid a cluster of deaths and illnesses, off-brand vapes aren’t worth it

Illustration by Lauren Johnson

Bryce Randall, Contributing Writer

Walking through campus, it’s clear that flavored flash drives have become a pointless trend. Students with no real reason to smoke stroll around with Juuls and e-cigarettes because they are thought to be a healthy option. In light of recent evidence, though, vaping devices might not be the healthy choice many believe them to be. Studies have been released showing that Juuls and other e-cigarettes are potentially toxic, and smoking them could be a death sentence.  

By Sept. 9, there had been five deaths and nearly 500 reports of the same illness. As of Tuesday, two more deaths were reported; bringing the overall death toll to seven. The common factor among all who died or became ill is the use of e-cigarettes, commonly known as vaping.

Whether the devices themselves or the liquids loaded into them are causing the harm is unknown, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning that there appears to be a particular danger for people who vape THC — the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. 

Normally, THC is not an ingredient in licensed vape products. However, due to recently passed state legislation that prohibits people younger than 21 from purchasing nicotine vapor products, some have turned to alternative non-licensed vaping products. Based on what I’ve witnessed, at least on campus, this new law has pushed many to buy off-brand vape products online or from sketchy shops on or around Broad Street, which can be modified to include THC and a number of other harmful chemicals. 

That being said: Stop buying nicotine vapor products off the street. Buying off-brand goods from shady dealers has never been deemed “OK” for any reason. There is no real way of knowing what is in the products you buy unless you take the time to run tests on them. Let’s be honest with each other, I doubt the majority of you would run tests on a product you know is dangerous. Blissful ignorance, right? 

Vendors could be selling you anything, and it seems like most of you would smoke it anyway, plain and simple.

In all honesty, smoking non-modified vape products is also not recommended. As clearly stated on Juul’s website, “vaping can have a positive impact when used by smokers, and can have a negative impact when used by nonsmokers.” If you are dependent on e-cigarettes as a means to satisfy your nicotine addiction, this message is not for you. I, just like most of you, respect those who are using Juuls for their actual purpose: to wean yourself off nicotine slowly. This message is, however, for all the people who puff flavored smoke after falling victim to the bandwagon.

My question for those of you without a nicotine dependency is: What possesses you to vape? You might like the temporary buzz you get in the moment, but it surely isn’t worth being hospitalized, or even dying. If you want to avoid the respiratory disease that is sweeping through the country like the plague, I suggest that you put down your e-cigarettes. Death and illness isn’t a good look on anyone.

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