The Detriments of Smoking: Is It Really Worth It?


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According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, as of 2022, one in four minors were e-cigarette users, racking up to an estimated total of 2.5 million American students who currently use e-cigarettes. 

It may seem corny to talk about the dangers of smoking, as proven by the failure of the DARE program, which merely heightened drug and alcohol usage rates among students who endured it. However, the effects of vaping must be discussed to keep teens informed and to hopefully reduce the problem that continues to run rampant in the US. 

The use of nicotine, especially during adolescence, can harm mental health. A research article released by the BMJ summarized multiple studies that noted a significant increase in anxiety symptoms and worsened depression in those who smoked. Additionally, those who experienced psychiatric disorders felt a larger effect of nicotine than those without disorders. When subjects quit, the stress decreased remarkably, revealing that quitting smoking is highly connected with a stabilized mood, stress relief and enhanced relaxation. 

Moreover, the cycle of having a low mood that is relieved temporarily by smoking and then reactivated later until another smoke break is taken, leads smokers to believe that smoking is aiding their mental health rather than contributing to its decline. This idea is only furthered when smokers attempt to quit and end up going through the withdrawal period, confirming that cigarettes soothe symptoms and discomfort. This strengthens their reliance on them, delving smokers deeper into the addiction.

Vaping is a gateway to smoking cigarettes, investing in other addictions, and consuming other drugs. Not only do most vapes contain nicotine, which is also found in cigarettes, but in general, it predisposes smokers to be accepting of bad habits. In 2012, P.H.D. Denise Kandel, and M.D. Eric R. Kandel, surveyed a group of U.S. Adults, aged 18 to 34, who had all been a cocaine user previously. Results concluded that 87.9% of the group had smoked cigarettes before using cocaine, a shocking majority. This is known as the Gateway Hypothesis, which observes the pattern of adolescent substance use of drugs, such as nicotine and alcohol, and how they precede the later use of more illicit substances, such as cocaine or heroin. 

An extra concern regarding vapes is best stated by M.D. Michael Blaha in a John Hopkins study. He states that e-cigarettes are being used by teens “(…) as their first nicotine-based product. They’re not trying to quit smoking– they’ve never smoked before.” So while these e-cigarettes have been promoted to help people quit or reduce smoking, they really introduce teens to the world of drugs and addiction. 

The obvious point that everyone has been told is that smoking can affect one’s physical health. People who smoke regularly often experience an overall rise in blood pressure, heart rate, an increase in blood clot risk and of course, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Smoking can also double a person’s risk to experience a stroke, cause permanent lung damage and chronic bronchitis. The chemicals inhaled when smoking cause damage to the heart, thickening the blood and creating plaque buildup in the arteries and blood vessels. “Cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to get heart disease than non-smokers.” Quitting smoking or refraining from starting can prevent the main factor for the number one cause of death in America: heart disease. 

In conclusion, smoking can worsen mental health, serve as a gateway drug for other addictions, and be a detriment to health. What flavor of e-cigarette could possibly be worth all of that?