The risks of smoking alternatives are becoming increasingly apparent.

On Sept. 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was investigating a recent outbreak of severe pulmonary diseases related to e-cigarette usage. Also connected to the outbreak were five deaths and respiratory illnesses that included coughing and vomit-inducing symptoms. In total, the CDC identified over 450 possible lung-related illnesses that may be connected to vaping.

As a caution, the CDC recommended Americans avoid vaping and e-cigarettes altogether while they look into related cases.

These reports should be more than enough to give the average person pause. According to a recent Reuters report, roughly 10.8 million Americans now use e-cigarettes. More than half of those users are under the age of 35.

Health concerns have long been a part of the conversation surrounding tobacco and marijuana replacements, but the time has come to seriously reflect on how these alternatives affect the body.

We were taught at a young age about the dangers of smoking. Entire campaigns were launched to upend a seemingly invincible cigarette industry, and time has shown they’ve been largely effective. Now in 2019, the dangers of tobacco bear repeating as cigarette alternatives enter the mainstream, particularly among young Americans.

In the past, e-cigarettes have been marketed as a cool alternative to the highly-researched and highly-stigmatized activity of smoking. Companies like Juul designed sleek vape machines that counter the far less attractive image of a burning roll of traditional tobacco paper. Flavor and scent options were also revamped, offering a nearly endless variety of sensory experiences marketed as appealing alternatives.

The rising popularity of e-cigarettes is one of the reasons why Texas, along with 18 other states, raised the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 earlier this month.

The move is commendable, but we must also take it upon ourselves to make wiser decisions.

Quitting and avoiding smoking substitutes altogether is not just the smarter option, it may save your life. The more we learn about vaping, the more it reveals itself to be a danger.

Don’t take that risk.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Jacob Reyes; Editor-in-Chief Reese Oxner; associate news editor Rocio Hernandez; engagement editor Edward Medeles; Amanda Padilla, life and entertainment editor; news reporter Elizabeth Jones and copy editor Andrew Walter

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