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    Home / College Guide / AGRAWAL: Stop normalizing vape culture
     Posted on Tuesday, April 16 @ 00:00:04 PDT

    AGRAWAL: Stop normalizing vape culture In January 2023, like many of the Big Ten universities, Rutgers went tobacco-free. This decision prohibited the use of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, on campus. Vaping is still very much rampant at Rutgers. Walking around the College Avenue campus, I see so many students holding their vapes as if they were pieces of their outfits. Vaping, having been initially marketed as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, has become an epidemic of its own among college students. According to the American College Health Association, a typical vape contains as much nicotine as a pack of regular cigarettes. The nicotine salts used in trendy and disposable vapes allow high levels of nicotine to be inhaled with less trouble, making the entire process very easy and addictive. Nicotine users are significantly more likely to have both the psychological and physical fallouts of this habit, putting their future well-being at risk and increasing their likelihood of anxiety. College students are subject to high levels of academic, financial and emotional stresses that make them especially vulnerable to falling into the trap of nicotine addiction.

    Additionally, peer pressure and the campus culture at large make it harder for students to muster up the will to quit. It starts with trying it once and grows into social vaping, slowly leading to buying your own vape and mindlessly using it. A friend of mine came up with a rewards-based approach to vaping, in which they allowed themselves a week of vaping if they were productive for two weeks in school. Hearing similar ideas from other people is concerning because it reinforces nicotine dependency as a motivational tool, potentially exacerbating addiction issues. The myriad of mental health issues associated with vaping doubles down on the urgent need to address this issue. E-cigarette use is heavily linked to mood and anxiety disorders, thoughts of suicide, depressive symptoms and overall poor mental health perception. Individuals often use nicotine products like vapes or cigarettes to temporarily ease stress or anxiety symptoms, but this can lead to increased anxiety over time. The persistence of vaping on campuses like Rutgers points to the ineffectiveness of current tobacco-free policies as standalone solutions. These policies fail to address the root causes of why students vape and do not sufficiently deter the behavior.

    There is a glaring need for more educational initiatives that confront not just the act of vaping but also its appeal and risks. Furthermore, there is a critical need for advocacy at the regulatory level to combat the aggressive marketing of vape products to young people. Flavor bans, stricter age restrictions and clearer labeling of nicotine content are essential steps to curb their appeal. The vaping epidemic on college campuses is more than a mere violation of tobacco-free policies — its a public health crisis with deep roots in the social fabric and mental health challenges faced by students. Vaping is not a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. Quitting the use of tobacco products is beneficial%2C%20and%20cancer.) at any age. More than 60 percent of U.S. adults who have ever smoked cigarettes have quit. There is still hope. If needed, seek help from existing campus resources for cessation, including counseling services through Rutgers Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program & Psychiatric Services. As students, lets make an active effort to acknowledge the serious effects of vaping and spread awareness about denormalizing it. Khushi Agrawal is a freshman in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in Digital Communication, Information and Media.

    Agrawals column, Scarlet Perspectives runs on alternate Mondays. Columns, cartoons, letters and commentaries do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff. YOUR VOICE | The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Letters to the editor must be between 350 and 600 words. Commentaries must be between 600 and 900 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and college affiliation or department to be considered for publication. Please submit via email to oped@dailytargum.com and eic@dailytargum.com to be considered for publication.

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