The E-Cigarette Epidemic

By: Najma Abdirahman, Samantha Boval, Patrick Germain, Sean Louis, and Chima Njoku

What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes (JUULing) are another word for electronic cigarettes, hookahs or vapes. Many people believe that it is safer than smoking cigarettes but in fact, they are somewhat alike. Cigarettes contain highly addictive toxic chemicals like nicotine, formaldehyde and lead. E-cigarettes are also addictive and come in all shapes and sizes. They can resemble everyday items like a pen or a flash drive and also run on batteries. Many people use e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking cigarettes because they believe that it's safer or that it will help them quit but it doesn't necessarily work. The liquids in e-cigarettes also come in a variety of flavors such as cherry crush, cotton candy, and chocolate mint.

Use among the U.S. population

E-cigarettes mostly influence the youth in the U.S. In 2018, 3.6 million U.S middle and high school students have used e-cigarettes. That’s 4.9% of middle schoolers and 20.8% high schoolers. However, this doesn’t mean that only youth use them, 58.8% of U.S. adults in 2017 were already cigarette smokers. 40% of U.S citizens between the ages of 18 and 24 have never been a regular cigarette smoker.

The problem

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is addictive and toxic to developing fetuses. Nicotine can also harm adolescent and brain development, which continues into the early mid 20s. Some of the ingredients in e-cigarettes include aerosol, which could cause long-term harm to the lungs. E-cigarettes are not healthy because they contain harmful chemicals. 

Moving Forward

One way to prevent people from interacting with e-cigarettes is to spread awareness about the dangers of smoking e-cigarettes. Another way is to not use e-cigarettes in front of young people because they see your behavior as an example and might be exposed to the nicotine and other harmful chemicals in e-cigarettes. In addition, you should choose places that are tobacco-free locations like restaurants.


  • In 2015: 1.3% of e-cigarette users aged 45 years and older had never been cigarette smokers. Yet, 40.0% of e-cigarette users aged 18 - 24 years had never been cigarette smokers.

  • E-cigarette manufacturers are not required to give any information about the chemicals in their products, where they are manufactured, how they are made, or the effects it has on the public.

  • Youth that are exposed to e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.

  • E-cigarette devices can be used to smoke marijuana and many different drugs.

Homelessness in Boston

By: Katia Antunes, Denesia Eunis-Jones, Cherish Lamar-Smith, and Kaylon Virgo

Homelessness in Boston

Boston is one of the ten most expensive places to live in the United States. This lack of affordability makes it prone to high rates of homelessness. The rent in Boston makes it very hard for families and individuals to provide for themselves whether it's food, transportation, clothes, and health/medical needs. Studies in late 2018 showed that there were more than 20,000 people experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts. Most of those people were families with children. The main reasons for homelessness in Massachusetts are due to poverty, physical/mental health disparities, substance abuse, and under-employment.  

Housing and Employment

The average cost of housing in Boston is $595,000. The cost increased by 2.5% from May 2018 to July 2019. If they think of just renting instead of owning it’s extremely expensive as well. On average, renting in Boston is over $2,200 for a one-bedroom apartment. 

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour but in Massachusetts it is $12.00. This means you would be getting paid $1,920 per month on average.  If the average amount of rent is $2,200, then not only do you not have enough money for rent, but you wouldn’t have money each month for food, utilities, or money just to live. If you have a family to feed, then it would be even harder. 


There are a few actions that we, as a community, can take to make a change in the lives of homeless individuals and families. These actions include increasing the number of shelters and programs available for the homeless population. More shelters would allow homeless individuals and families to have more options for places to spend the night. More options would mean instead of spending the night in the street they would be able to spend it inside a safe home with food, water and other resources. Another action that would help improve the lives of homeless individuals and families would be increasing the number of programs. There are action plans in place as a blueprint to help homeless individuals. These plans are meant to help homeless individuals find a way out of the street and find employment. This is a way to suggest new solutions and help those in need find homes.  


In conclusion, Boston has the highest rate of homelessness in the united states due to the fact that there is an extreme poverty with youth. The reason why there is a significant amount of homelessness is because of lack of affordable housing, high unemployment rates, and under-employment. Some ways on how to decrease the rate of homelessness in Massachusetts include creating a blueprint for homeless individuals to map out their future and increasing the number of shelters in Massachusetts.

The Childhood Asthma Disparity

By: Pierson White, Ashley Valbrun, Sade Woods, Tyrone Garvin, Amber Taste-Suite

As defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways.” Plaguing 300 million people in the world, with 6.2 million of those being children under the age of 18, as reported by the Center for Disease Control, asthma is one of the most prevalent illnesses faced  But before delving into the core of the issue, we must understand what asthma itself is. 

Asthma causes your airways to swell and become irritated, causing chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, etc. Your muscles then wrap around your airways making it hard to breathe that causes an asthma episode, or “asthma attack” as most people know it. This the most dangerous long term effect. These effects on the body can affect you in participating in sports and other activities. If asthma is left untreated, your lungs and airways become more constricted and can cause you to eventually lose lung function, that could lead to heart disease and serious respiratory problems. However, the real problem is not a lack of treatment, but instead, inaccessibility to the medications themselves.

There are a number of different medicines to treat asthma, such as Singulair and Montelukast. Commonly used in inhalers, these drugs reduce swelling in the lungs and loosen the muscles around the airways, opening up the patients’ airways. However, paying for these medications is where the trouble begins. According to University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, “Use of an inhaler can cost $200 to $300 a month. An emergency room visit for an asthma episode can total $3,500.” This is especially detrimental to children, who, according to University of Colorado Department of Clinical Pharmacy, have to pay around $847 more than the average child would have to pay for treatments, making up a staggering $5.92 billion of the asthma pharmaceutical industry. It is these high costs that prevent equal and universal treatment for those with asthma. 

In particular, these expensive prescriptions specifically harm more impoverished communities. A study conducted by Regis University School of Pharmacy in Denver, Colorado found that children with asthma residing in poor urban neighborhoods had lower odds of using controller medications. As researchers explained, “Poor urban residence may be independently associated with asthma control and treatment even after controlling for individual characteristics such as race and ethnicity. Future research is needed to understand the sources of these geographic health disparities to more successfully target public health interventions.” Studies like this prove that being in a poor urban neighborhood severely limits the access children have to asthma treatments. 

There are many problems that people with asthma have to deal with. While we would like to address the problem at its core, which is the expensive treatments, we believe that, without extensive reform by the government, it is difficult to combat. So instead, we’ve decided to outline a couple of ways that those currently with asthma can take care of themselves. These are the solutions that we believe will help people with asthma.

    • 1) Follow your asthma action plan

    • 2) Get vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia 

    • 3) Identify and avoid asthma trigger

    • 4) Monitor your breathing

    • 5) Take your medication as prescribed

    • 6) Pay attention to increasing quick-relief inhaler use

While we may not be able to solve the problem completely, we hope that the steps we’ve laid out here can help those with asthma live healthy and safe lives.

The Intersection of Mental Health and Substance Abuse

By: Shannon Guppy, Shana Pinnock, Wilkendy SantanaBaez, Jalon Wynn, Lenny Laracuente

It’s no secret that drug and alcohol abuse are two of the most prevalent issues facing Americans. In 2017, the American Addiction Centers reported that almost 74% of adults experienced some substance abuse disorder, with an astounding 1 in 8 adults claiming they dealt with drug and alcohol abuse issues simultaneously. But what some may not realize is that one of the root causes of this addiction is not merely a downward spiral from recreational use, but rather, a misrepresentation of how these substances can relieve the pain from those with mental disorders. With a reported 8.5 million Americans saying that they suffered from both a mental health and drug abuse disorder according to American Addiction Centers, the intersection between mental health and substance abuse is clear.

Before we delve into the core of the issue, we must first understand the players in this atrocious game. Drugs are chemicals that affect the body and brain. Though there is a plethora of drugs that people believe will alleviate their mental ailments, the most common ones are the following: Marijuana, heroin, and Alcohol (yes alcohol qualifies as a drug). Marijuana, known as weed and cannabis, among other names, is a psychoactive drug from the cannabis plant. Heroin, similar to Marijuana, is a psychoactive opioid made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed of the various opium poppy plants. Alcohol, which is also a drug, is a depressant made from the chemical Ethanol. 

 Some effects of drugs include health consequences that are long lasting and permanent. They can even continue after a person has stopped taking the substance. There are a few ways a person can take drugs, including injection, inhalation, and ingestion. The effects of the drug on the body can depend on how the drug is delivered. For example, the injection of drugs directly into the bloodstream has an immediate impact, while ingestion has a delayed effect. Despite how long it takes to affect the user, all misused drugs affect the brain, increase strain on the liver, heart, and/or pancreas. This can lead to  problems with memory, attention and decision-making, which make daily living more difficult, a weakened immune system, increasing the risk of illness and infection, heart conditions ranging from abnormal heart rates to heart attacks and collapsed veins and blood vessel infections. Though it is clear the risks that using these drugs at anytime, the real danger is when people begin turning to drugs as ways to relieve themselves from the stress or anxiety of everyday life.

Alcohol has long been used to relieve stress and anxiety and has been branded as a “rite of passage” for those reaching adulthood. The usage of alcohol over time can become dangerous and make it harder to deal with anxiety. The addiction begins when one starts to feel like they can only depend on alcohol to ease their anxiety. The more one drinks, the more their body can start to tolerate thus needing an increase in alcohol consumption to feel better.  A lot of alcohol can eventually also cause health problems, which can add more stress and anxiety while dealing with the symptoms. So while people use more and more alcohol to relieve feelings of stress anxiety, abuse of it only serves to create more stress for those using it.

According to the Office of Adolescent Health at the Center for Disease Control “Approximately 4.9 million middle and high school students were current tobacco users in 2018.” Many teens smoke in order to feel numb to stress, feel happy or most likely to fit in and that is a problem that probably can’t be solved. Not only that, these problematic uses can cause very bad sickness and even suicidal thoughts. Marijuana can also cause the risk of a heart attack, respiratory and memory problems, etc… So even though people think that marijuana might be “non-addictive” and “doesn’t hurt you like other drugs”, the effects it has can create many long-term issues for the abuser. 

The key issue is that people that are facing negative situations around their life use drugs and alcohol as an escape. Some people may not be addicted because of bad situations going on but because they use it for fun and they continue with it as an everyday use. In order to address these issues of substance addiction, these are some pieces of advice we have put in for anybody with this problem: 

  • Join a recovery group (A Group of people that are in or have gone through similar situations as you where you can talk about it and get ideas of how to get through it).

  • Enter into rehab (Drug rehabilitation is the process of medical or psychotherapeutic treatment for dependence on psychoactive substances such as alcohol, prescription drugs, and street drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, or amphetamines).

  • Be around people who are positive/staying away from people who may influence you to use drugs or alcohol. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts

  • Keep a healthy diet

  • Participate in fun and relaxing activities, like yoga, running, sports, or meditation

  • Try to find new hobbies to distract yourself from using drugs or alcohol

  • Hosting community health events that highlight the negative effects of using these substances