Miramonte follows national trend in vaping decline

Limiting flavors feeds downward trend of use


CrAnia Keenan, Sophia Acevedo, Miramonte High School

California Healthy Kids Survey shows the use of vaping products in 2019 and the percentage of schools banning these products.

The number of  high school and middle school students using e-cigarettes fell dramatically this year, according to a national survey, and Miramonte has taken part in the decline. 

“I stopped vaping because I realized how it is so pointless and the only reason I was doing it and had started in the first place was because it was considered ‘cool’ and because all my friends were doing it,” said a Miramonte junior who asked  to remain anonymous. 

According to the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey conducted between January and March, just under 20 percent of high schoolers and 5 percent of middle schoolers admitted to using vaping products. Last year, 27.5 percent of high schoolers and 10.5 percent of middle schoolers said they used e-cigarettes. The survey states that the total number of school students who vape fell by 1.8 million in a year, from 5.4 million to 3.6 million.

“I did notice a decrease in students found using vape products on campus, which the California Healthy Kids Survey data shows and supports, as well as an increase in kids who were willing to advocate for a safe and clean campus who would actually come to us and say ‘there’s something going on in that bathroom.’ We also increased supervision of the spaces we knew were hotspots,”Miramonte  principal Julie Parks said.

The company Juul pulled all of its vaping flavors except menthol and tobacco from the market last fall ahead of federal action instructing them to do so. A study by the American Cancer Society indicated that this removal of certain flavors resulted in users quickly switching to different brands that were still selling the “sweet” flavors. Additionally, a 2019 CDC report found that over five million American middle-school and high-school students were e-cigarette users, with the majority admitting that the flavors were a key reason for use. Another credited restriction is the federal age limit for sales that was signed on Dec. 20, 2019, which raised the federal minimum age for sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21, along with a notable price increase of products. 

“Nicotine is a highly addictive substance found in tobacco products. Nicotine addiction is the most common addiction in America. Because addiction changes the biochemical makeup of the brain, it becomes harder to quit the earlier a person starts using. Young people are more susceptible to forming an addiction,” reports the Addiction Center, a national organization dedicated to fighting addiction.

“I have no doubt in saying that smoking and vaping could put people at increased risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19, it is quite clear that smoking and vaping are bad for the lungs, and the predominant symptoms of COVID are respiratory. Those two things are going to be bad in combination,” pediatric pulmonologist at Columbia University Dr. Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir said in an article on the Nautilus.

“I stopped vaping once before, yet returned to it recently and am trying to stop again. I can feel it negatively affect the way I breathe and condition for sports, as well as making me feel sick and nauseous. I also have realized that it brings nothing but negative results in the long run,” said a Miramonte sophomore who asked to remain anonymous. 

During an outbreak of lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarettes in August and September of 2019, more than 2,800 illnesses and 68 deaths were reported nationwide. Most of those who got sick said they vaped solutions containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that produces the high in marijuana. 

“Although these data reflect a decline in current e-cigarette use since 2019, some 3.6 million U.S. youths still currently used e-cigarettes in 2020, and among current users, more than eight in 10 reported using flavored e-cigarettes,” the federal  analysts said. Even though there is a decline in teenage e-cigarette usage, a numerous amount of high school students are still reportedly vaping, so officials are still working toward achieving even lower numbers. 

“For me it wasn’t very hard to stop vaping because I knew it was the right thing to do and I knew it would benefit my health. I’m super happy with my decision and I hope more people can come to the same realization,” the Miramonte junior said. 

Left: 2017 data from the California Healthy Kids Survey, Right: 2019 data from the California Healthy Kids Survey