Saturday, May 25, 2024

Just Another Vice?

By Sarah Madison Repollo | September 21, 2023

Smoke permeates the air. Puff after puff, inhale and exhale. Another hit, another blow, another breath. Wheeze as you draw oxygen in, only to do it all over again. 

This time, the environment reaps the consequences, not just you. 

Vaping is the inhalation of nicotine using a device—and it is the new trend. Throughout the late 20th century, studies have outlined the effects of smoking. Because of this, people searched for a new addiction—one with a better rep than the cigarette. 

It wasn’t until the year 2003 that nicotine lovers would get their long-awaited alternative. 

Many attempted to create e-cigarettes over the years, but Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik would be the first to succeed in the market. His smoker father died of lung cancer, so it was Lik’s dream to find a healthier substitute. Unfortunately, Lik engaged in dual smoking—using both cigarettes and vapes. A 2018 study found that, just like the vape creator himself, many are only encouraged by vaping to proceed to smoking, thereby defeating the purpose of the alternative in the first place.

The dangers of vaping are in no way a secret, but countless people continue to do it. E-cigarettes are producers of chemicals that cause lung injury, COPD, asthma, heart problems, and many other diseases. Even the non-smokers who spend time around vapers are exposed to secondhand vape aerosol that contains carcinogens. And even when harmful effects are mandatorily taught in Philippine schools, 14.1 percent of underage Filipino youth admitted to using vapes. 

To them, it is just another vice.

But the biggest concern when it comes to vaping is not just its effects on the individual, but to a greater scope: our environment, our home. In and of itself, vapes are a triple threat—plastic waste, chemical waste, and electronic waste—that may even perhaps be worse than the alternative it sought to replace.

In Australia, 86% of vapers prefer the use of disposable e-cigarettes. This may be due to how e-cigarettes are made to be cheap and easy to obtain—all this through the power of  plastic packaging. 

It is already an established fact that no plastic will ever readily decompose, and with the disposal of vapes only taking between a few days to a couple weeks, this is surely not a sustainable way to live. 

E-cigarettes also have batteries in them, and when improperly disposed of, they pose explosive risks in the recycling facilities they are thrown to. 

Furthermore, the chemicals inside vapes—particularly nicotine, can pollute the soil, water sources, and harm wildlife. 

Despite being the apex predators, humans cannot survive without the other parts of the food chain. They cannot survive without the earth, while the earth is on its own in its ability to house humans. Though countless research activities have sought to search for society’s Plan B, earth’s deterioration might eventually catch up to us before Mars proves inhabitable. 

As a whole, the highly addictive vice of vaping has detrimental effects on the user, the people around them, and the world. To the environment we live in: the plastic packaging of e-cigarettes piles up in landfills and degrades at a snail’s pace, while batteries and chemicals spark fires and poison Mother Nature. 

The easiest solution of course is to quit. But to quit is easier said than done. 

To curb a nicotine addiction is no easy feat. The drug is compelling, making recovery a long and arduous process, but there is a way—a couple, actually. 

A support system that can monitor and be there for vapers is essential in quitting successfully, and new hobbies are needed to fill the hole that vaping leaves. Realistically, getting everyone to stop at once is near impossible, but through time and patience, consistently discouraging the vice, and offering alternative interests might eventually convince vapers to stop—for themselves, for others, but most of all, for the world. 

The drug fills your lungs, but this time, you pause and ponder: “Is vaping really just another vice?


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