Is ‘youth vaping’ an epidemic? Local students give their take

BETHESDA, Md. — E-cigarettes were a trend that spiked last year but has since slowed down a bit, according to students who weighed in on the problem of youth vaping at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration called teenage use of e-cigarettes a national “epidemic” and ordered manufacturers to reverse the trend or risk having their flavored vaping products pulled from the market.

“I’ve noticed it’s kind of cut down but I would still say it is a problem,” said Gavin May, a BCC junior. “There are so many people doing it. I don’t think kids are aware of how harmful it can really be.”

Students said the bathrooms last year were routinely filled with teens who would vape around the sinks and in the stalls.

“There’s a huge culture toward it,” said Rafe Garcia-Hidalgo, another BCC junior. “It definitely happened when I was a freshman but then it started to blow up and got a lot bigger last year.”

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E-cigarettes are vapor-emitting devices that have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry in the U.S., despite little research on their long-term effects.

They typically contain nicotine, and sometimes flavorings like fruit, mint or chocolate.

Under Wednesday’s announcement, the five largest e-cigarette manufacturers will have 60 days to produce plans to stop underage use of their products.

The companies sell Vuse, Blu, Juul, MarkTen XL, and Logic e-cigarette brands, which account for 97 percent of U.S. e-cigarette sales, according to the FDA.

If the plans fall short, the FDA could block sales of the products by enforcing a requirement that companies provide detailed design and health data about their products before marketing them.

The FDA also announced 1,300 warning letters and fines to online and traditional stores that have illegally sold e-cigarettes to minors. Regulators said it was the largest coordinated crackdown in the agency’s history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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