Sydney Sanders is the Opinions & Editorials editor for the Newswire. She is a senior Philosophy, Politics and the Public and political science double major from Cincinnati.
With all due respect, you made a choice.
An article was published last week in the Newswire titled, “Is this really how I die,” and I want to take this opportunity to respond to that piece and hopefully deliver a different perspective.
First and foremost, I want to clarify that I’m not trying to dismiss your experiences or tell you addiction isn’t a mental illness — these are very real issues that are more prevalent in society today than ever before. I respect your willingness to discuss such personal matters in such a public way in an attempt to attack corporate America for targeting youths with nicotine. I genuinely feel there is a place for discourse about the issues you brought forth.
With that being said, the blame game is nothing but a gateway for young adults, not unlike yourself, to reject responsibility for their actions. Corporate America is greedy and problematic to say the least, and it’d be hard for you to find someone who doesn’t agree with that. But at the end of the day, you made a choice to become addicted to nicotine. You made a choice to give into that pressure and you made a choice not to seek professional help. What’s not a choice are mental illnesses. I want to acknowledge that once you made that choice, it was out of your control, and I understand that. But it all began with your choice.
What needs to be discussed then, is alternative, healthier coping mechanisms. These are serious topics that cannot be brushed off with the puff of a Juul. While I understand that there are barriers to many people in this country from seeking help – financially, demographically, etc. — but the article published last week was preaching to a choir of Xavier students, faculty and staff with an abundance of resources at our disposal, and that article dismissed the importance of the professional assistance readily available to our community.
From our earliest memories, we’ve known that smoking is bad for us. The language used in advertisements and warning labels is comprehensible to a toddler. Smoking is bad, cancer is real, your lungs turn black and you can die. What did you not understand?
The experiences relived last week were traumatizing and I am truly sympathetic for those who share similar stories. What I have a hard time grasping, however, is that it is anyone but your own fault for turning to, “the dark corner store that didn’t ID and ask(ing) the man for a starter pack.” People survive life-altering events every single day and avoid the allure of tar in their lungs.
This isn’t an issue that has to wait for a national ban by politicians who take too long and let too many people die. This is an issue of providing a better discourse for young America to make better decisions regarding their health, both physically and mentally. Peer pressure is real, yes. But you know what else is real? The word ‘no.’ Instagram didn’t buy you a Juul; the conscious swipe of your debit card did.
The importance of fostering an environment that encourages children and adolescents to think for themselves and not to accept the words of those around them, including those of corporate America, as the end-all-be-all truth is where last week’s article should have gone.
No one disagrees that vaping instruments that are killing healthy citizens should be banned. No one disagrees that the societal pressure to ‘fit in’ today is toxic. No one disagrees that politicians are slow-moving machines.
What I disagree with, though, is that kids are inevitably victims of e-cigarettes. They aren’t. Your addiction wasn’t inevitable and teaching others that it was is stripping their responsibility and accountability that needs to be recognized, especially given the world around us today. Live with your decisions and learn from them instead of accepting death.