Roughly 15 students attended an anti-vaping discussion on Feb. 12 inside the Randall Lewis Center.
The event, put on by the American Lung Association began with a friendly competition of the virtual classroom game Kahoot.
The game included shocking statistics, such as e-cigarette use among high school students has increased by 135% between 2017 and 2019, according to the American Lung Association.
After the game, Jessica Vozella of the Lung Association gave an information-heavy presentation about the negative impacts of vaping and smoking.
“Smoking is responsible for 40,000 Californian deaths each year,” Vozella said.
Vozella talked about the marketing strategies of the big tobacco companies and its effects on teens.
Studies conducted by the American Lung Association show that among adults who have ever smoked regularly, 87 percent had tried their first cigarette by the time they were 18 years old, and 95 percent had done so by the age 21.
Vozella added that big tobacco companies target teenagers because of their likelihood to start smoking or vaping, and then becoming customers for life.
“An obvious strategy to appeal to teenagers is flavors,” Vozella said.
Among those teens who vape, 90% of teenagers use flavored vapes, she said.
Although flavors seem pleasing, they turn out to be the most damaging factor in the case of lung damage, she said.
The Lung Association found that the flavoring in vape pens contain a chemical known as diacetyl, also used in factories to flavor popcorn.
Although safe to eat, inhaling the toxic vapors of diacetyl causes irreversible damage to the lungs.
The workers in these popcorn factories developed lung diseases from this chemical, ultimately resulting in its ban from most food products, according to the American Lung Association.
While people do not expect to be exposed to diacetyl because they do not work in these factories, they are exposed to it through e-cigarette vapor.
“I think that’s just pure cruelty,” said Lauren Cassidy, a freshman psychology major at the event.
“The fact that they know what they’re giving us is killing our body is just ridiculous,” Cassidy said.
“What blew my mind the most was non-smokers who started vaping are now more likely to smoke cigarettes,” said Michael Rodriguez, a sophomore information technology major.
“It’s like we got so close to eliminating smoking and cigarettes from society, [and] now we’ve come full circle,” Rodriguez said.
Quintus Alton, a junior liberal arts major, said he will try to spread awareness about the issues surrounding vaping and smoking after the lecture.
“I’m going to try my best to just reciprocate this topic and what I learned through word of mouth,” Alton said. “I felt in the presentation the presence of a guiding factor in someone’s life was missing. So I am going to try … helping spread the message by one-on-one conversations with friends.”
Aaron Arellano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.