Big nicotine takes a fruitier form in order to directly target college students throughout the United States—including those who attend Slippery Rock University.
A survey about nicotine addiction on campus, conducted via social media, garnered responses from 124 SRU students.
“If I had any advice for someone who hasn’t tried nicotine, I would tell them to stay away from it because I wish I never tried it to begin with,” one participant said anonymously.
The survey showed that 60.5% of participants answered “yes” to the question: “Do you use nicotine?” Of those 75 students that answered in the affirmative, 72.5 % claim to engage in the habit daily.
Evidence of addiction is prevalent throughout campus. 43.7% of those surveyed answered that they consider themselves addicted to nicotine, while 10.7% of participants claim they are “not sure”.
“I hate it,” one participant said, “but I feel like I don’t have control over whether I can hate it or not because I love it too.”
“I have been addicted to substances in the past such as opiates and I was able to quit cold turkey without ever looking back,” another participant said, “I cannot say the same for nicotine… I haven’t been able to go more than 10 days without it since I was 16. I genuinely wish I never started.”
When asked which form of nicotine they most often consume, 86.1% of participants answered that vaping is their preferred method of intake.
“It feels like every time I step out in the quad, I see at least one person shrouded by a cloud of vapor,” freshman Brayden Sample said. “It’s interesting that the problem is literally visible, yet nobody seems to care.”
Vaping has been on a steady rise in America for the last ten years. Though it was originally marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary.
“My friend from high school had a rupture in his lungs due to vaping,” an anonymous SRU student said. “The damage is the same, except you can eliminate some of the risks that come from second-hand smoke with cigarettes.”
Makers of e-cigarettes also sold vaping as a way to end nicotine addiction. However, this was proven false as well.
According to fda.gov, 14.1% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students reported electronic nicotine use. Similarly, 67.9% of those surveyed at SRU claim to have first begun vaping in high school. 14.8% say the habit formed in middle school.
Statista.com reported that, as of fall 2021, 75.7% of college students claimed to have used e-cigarettes within 3 months of being surveyed.
“I think students turn to it because of stress and accessibility,” said Sample. “I know nicotine use targets lower-income people, too. Perhaps that is why it’s such a big issue here.”
Another reason for vaping’s reign over Slippery Rock University may be due to flavored disposable vaporizers. 85% of teenagers prefer flavored disposables for their nicotine fix, according to fda.gov.
On the local survey, SRU students were asked to name the kind of vape that they use most often. While every other answer identified disposable vapes notorious for child-like flavors, only one user listed Juul.
This may be a result of the FDA’s ban on flavored Juul pods in 2019. The other companies students listed (Novo, Vuse, Elfbar, Njoy, Flair, Hyde, etc.) each have a vast array of flavors to offer.
A few examples of Elfbar flavors include triple berry, watermelon-bubblegum, energy drink, lemon-mint, blue raspberry, strawberry-banana, cranberry-grape, pina colada, peach-mango, honeydew and more.
“Disposables come in very bright colors,” Sample said. “It’s so blatantly marketed to young people that it’s not even funny.”
Still, struggles for nicotine users go beyond dodging eye-catching colors and pining for taste.
“Sometimes I feel like the odds are stacked against me as a nicotine addict,” a participant said anonymously. “It’s impossible to quit when you’re surrounded by so many others who struggle with the same thing.”
One self-proclaimed victim of nicotine addiction at SRU said simply, “vaping kills.”