Vaping and Nicotine Amongst College Athletes
According to studies, nicotine-addicted athletes are skipping or taking breaks from practice to have smoke breaks, and are more likely to have shortness of breath compared to athletes who don’t vape. Not only that, but vaping can cause both heart problems and cardiac and lung disease (Hilliard, 2019). For all humans, regardless if they’re athletes or not, the heart is the most important organ in their body, therefore, doing damage to it not only can impact one’s athletic performance, but also their physical well-being. This can not only be detrimental to themselves, but also their teammates. In sports such as football and basketball, it is crucial to have a “second wind” of energy in the fourth quarter, and have the stamina to play your hardest during the final minutes of regulation.
Not only does vaping have both short-term and long-term health effects, it also comes with great disciplinary consequences for student-athletes. Many school officials are now handing out game-long suspensions for student-athletes caught vaping on school premises (Hilliard, 2019). This not only can cause athletes to be suspended for championship events, but it can also prevent them from being recruited by top colleges and receiving scholarship offers, as college coaches are not going to want athletes who will ultimately waste scholarship money due to suspensions.
Vape and e-cigarette manufacturers have strategically made their products marketable to teenagers and young adults, by making them both candy and fruit flavored, which is most appealing to a younger audience. Unfortunately, many student-athletes fell victim to this trap, and “tried” vaping once or twice, only to become fully addicted to it. However, many schools and universities now offer programs and courses to help educate students on the risks of nicotine as well as the likelihood of addiction. An example of a student-athlete who became hooked on nicotine was a promising young hockey star, who spoke in front of congress in July of 2019. This young man found himself having shortness of breath due to his nicotine addiction, and ultimately was diagnosed with a lung disease, preventing his lungs from fully expanding. Not only did this ruin his once promising hockey career, but it also caused a violent shift in his personality (Allen, 2019). This is very understandable, as his athletic performance was likely struggling, while his body was aching more than usual; therefore, he had no sort of way to personally justify this.
While pretty much all high schools are against vaping, some schools have created a culture where there is a zero-tolerance policy for it. A school in Texas recently removed over a third of the school’s cheerleaders from the roster for having posted images of them vaping on social media (ibid). Having a strict policy like this is important, because it not only shows that the school is serious when it comes to having a nicotine free environment, but it also discourages younger students from trying to vape, and may even encourage students who are already addicted to receive outside help. Additionally, the student-athletes who are caught are more likely to quit, as they are now more scared than ever to lose any possible athletic opportunities they may have in the future if given a second chance.
Ultimately, it is up to us young adults to educate future generations on the health and career risks of vaping. Unfortunately, there are many cautionary tales out there of people who let vaping get the best of them and ruin their athletic careers. By sharing these stories with younger generations, we can help prevent them from making the same mistakes. An idea which could help decrease the popularity of vaping would be to completely boycott stores that sell vape or e-cigarette products, and let others know to do the same. Social media movements such as throwing the JUUL out the window or flushing it down the toilet can actually help promote the disapproval or electronic cigarettes. If all of us continue to share these movements, as well as the health risks of vaping, we can help people on our teams as well as our friend groups to quit vaping and smoking all together.
Written by Brandon Parrado, UNM Student
May 29, 2020
Firm, Beasley Allen Law. “Story from Beasley Allen: Vaping Negatively Impacts Student-Athletes' Health.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 2 Dec. 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/sponsor-story/beasley-allen/2019/12/02/vaping-negatively-impacts-student-athletes-health/4298607002/.
Hilliard, Jena. “Vaping Is Crushing the Health and Dreams Of High School Athletes.” Addiction Center, 28 Aug. 2019, www.addictioncenter.com/news/2019/08/vaping-high-school-athletes/.