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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
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Opinion: Vaping crisis or gun crisis?

Trump administration prioritizes wrong epidemic affecting schools

President Trump signed a piece of legislation that raised the federal minimum purchasing age of tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21 on Dec. 19, 2019. The legislation was passed after a wave of a mysterious lung disease struck the country last year. Little was known about the exact cause of the lung disease, except that it was linked to vaping. Concrete evidence has still not linked the disease to one singular vape, but investigations are underway. 

Around this time, I discovered an article from CNN that showed that of the 180 school shootings in the past 10 years, there have been 356 victims. There was one question that I found myself asking: why is this vaping epidemic more important to the Trump administration than passing gun control legislation in the wake of multiple school shootings?

A report by CBS News found that there were more mass shootings than there were days in a year in 2019, at the time of the report. With all of these troubling statistics about mass shootings surfacing, I couldn't help but think that President Trump has prioritized the wrong epidemic. The only difference between the two epidemics is that teenagers are harming themselves with these vape products, but when a shooter comes into a classroom with a gun, someone else is causing that harm.

The Trump administration has focused its efforts on combating the vaping crisis, which, according to The New York Times, has taken the life of 59 people and infected 2,602 others. Many questions still swirl as teenagers question whether vaping THC, nicotine, CBD or all three causes the vaping illness. With fear spreading amongst the confusion as to the cause of the vaping illness, mass shootings are still prevalent and have created a wave of fear within schools dating back before such vaping devices even existed.

“I was very active about gun control in my senior year of high school because it hit so close to home after a school shooting occurred near me,” said sophomore Joshua Evans, who is a gun control activist and helped host a walk-out at his high school. “Why is the Trump administration attacking the smaller things first that have not been properly studied when you have hard facts of people dying every day by guns? These are hard statistics. Numbers do not lie.”

I believe that the vaping illness is an important issue to discuss and investigate. I support raising the age to combat teenage use. Even more than this, I believe that more studies need to be completed to understand what exactly is causing this level of severe lung damage. 

With that being said, there are already statistics about mass shootings available. If the Trump administration fails to respond to these statistics, let alone acknowledge them, then yes, the vaping epidemic could end, but the never-ending series of school shootings will ultimately continue. 

Costa Beavin is a junior in the School of Communication and a columnist for The Eagle. 

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