As 2018 comes to an end and the new year approaches, it is time to reflect on the United State's actions, specifically in regard to the nation's youth. While there have been a number of positive changes to the U.S., such as e-cigarette regulation, gun laws remain an unaddressed threat to American adolescents.
The FDA recently released a chilling statistic, revealing "Among middle and high school students, 3.62 million were current users of e-cigarettes in 2018." As the minimal age to purchase an E-cigarette and E-cigarette paraphernalia ranges from 18-21 years old, it is alarming that middle schoolers as young as 12 years old own nicotine devices. In response to the number of underage e-cigarette users, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement implementing "a Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to stop youth use of, and access to, JUUL and other e-cigarettes." Through discontinuing JUUL's flavored nicotine cartridges, funding campaigns to end teen smoking, and forcing JUUL to re-evaluate their advertising, the government appears to be putting forth their best efforts to protect the nation's youth.
However, while the government is regulating e-cigarettes to "protect the nation's youth" children are being shot and killed in schools. According to BBC News, 2018 has had the highest number of school shootings ever recorded, where "113 people have been killed or injured in school shootings in the United States." With most education institutions having 180 school days per year, that averages to a school shooting occurring once every eight days.
While there is evidently more adolescents using e-cigarettes than semi-automatic weapons, it is nearly impossible to overdose due to vaping. Jamie Brown, the deputy director for the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at the University of London, explains that in the time it takes to reach lethal concentrations of nicotine, the individual would become "too unwell to continue vaping." As it is seemingly infeasible for an adolescent to die due to e-cigarettes, it only takes one gunshot to end a student's life and impact every person in that community forever.
Ultimately, if the government's main agenda was "protecting the nation's youth" they would start with regulating gun laws by conducting more thorough background checks, increasing the minimum age to purchase a weapon to at least 21 years old, and banning AR-15's and other semi-automatic weapons.