When Maxwell Berger took the first hit of a Juul e‑cigarette at the age of 18, he didn’t know it would lead to a vaping addiction, resulting in permanent left-side paralysis, speech impairment, and a 50% loss of vision in both eyes less than four years later.
Berger suffered from a massive hemorrhagic stroke in 2018 and spent more than 100 days in the hospital where he underwent three brain surgeries.
Now, he’s suing Juul, the most popular vaping company.
On Sept. 11, President Trump wisely took action against the public-health crisis of vaping, promising to ban the sale of flavored e‑cigarettes. This federal action will prevent the rise of a new generation of smokers and diseases.
Critics have said the ban will do more harm than good, while expressing support for those who depend on e‑cigarettes to help curb their addiction.
In an article titled “A Vaping Ban Will Send Smokers Back to The Pack,” Wall Street Journal commentators Liam Sigaud and Steve Pociask wrote, “[T]here are signs that e‑cigarettes on net have saved lives by offering a safer alternative to smoking.”
The Wall Street Journal article touts that cigarette smoking has significantly decreased since e‑cigarettes came on the market. But there is little value in decreased cigarette smoking when e‑cigarette use has soared.
Health officials are investigating 380 confirmed and probable cases of pulmonary illness related to vaping, six of which have resulted in death. People may be smoking cigarettes less, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. If a new generation of teenagers ends up addicted to nicotine from e‑cigarettes — and suffer its detrimental health effects — then quitting cigarettes isn’t helpful.
Teenagers grew up with the D.A.R.E program, countless federal department of agriculture commercials discouraging smoking, and generations of parents and grandparents as living proof of the medical dangers of picking up a cigarette. I’m 20 years old, and I still remember the song I had to sing after signing my pledge to abstain from smoking cigarettes.
For teenagers today who pick up a cigarette, that is their decision, and they have no one else to blame for any subsequent medical damage. The government and the media did their part informing them of the risks.
Unlike cigarette smokers, young e‑cigarette smokers don’t have the wealth of knowledge and medical history to discourage their new habit. They are becoming the next generation to suffer. Because there were no known diseases or other harmful effects of vaping, many thought it was safe. And the effects are hitting Gen‑Z the hardest.
It’s true that some communities can’t afford top-notch anti-drug programs and not all parents tried their hardest to prevent their children’s cigarette use. But these people have likely seen the real-life effects of smoking in their own area, potentially in a very personal way, as cigarette smoking is more common in lower-income areas.
Cigarette smokers of the 21st century don’t have the excuse of misinformation. They’ve known for years — before they began smoking — that they shouldn’t smoke, and there are plenty of alternative ways to quit, including various therapy, medications, and skin patches, that don’t cause a nationwide e‑cigarette epidemic.
And several states agree. Michigan and New York have both banned the sale of flavored e‑cigarettes, neither of which ever thought it threatening enough to ban the sale of regular cigarettes.
According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Juul targets teenagers with flavors like “Bubble Gum,” “Cotton Candy,” and “Captain Crunch.” Vaping that isn’t as clearly aimed at teenagers, such as methanol-flavored pods, weren’t included in either ban.
The company, however, claims that since its inception in 2015 its mission has been to get cigarette smokers off their nicotine addiction.
Rather than produce an entire generation of smokers, relying on vast amounts of government spending to combat the medical repercussions, and damaging the ability and intellect of this teenage generation, the Trump administration is making the right decision in preventing the generation from growing.
Instead of getting cigarette smokers hooked on a different form of smoking while breeding a new generation of smokers, the Trump administration is working to keep the next generation from suffering Berger’s fate.
Allison Schuster is a junior studying politics and The Collegian’s features editor.