Coffee Smoking: A Dangerous Teen Trend?
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Coffee Smoking: A Dangerous Teen Trend?


This post was originally published on April 1, 2014.

Oh, you kooky news media, you. Always scoping for a sensational new trend piece that’s, well, kinda sorta based on…nothing. In this case, though, the jury’s still out so make up your own mind, dear reader.

Smoking Java or Smoke and Mirrors?

Anyway, the Internet went nuts after Las Vegas ABC news affiliate KNTV ran a segment about a “dangerous new trend” called coffee smoking that is, apparently, “going viral among teens.” The report claims that bunches o’ websites are helpfully instructing kids how to roll their own “coffee sticks” to smoke just like, well, whatever else they happen to be smoking. It’s unclear what kind of high the “coffee sticks” would provide, but the anchor lists possible side effects like dizziness, vomiting and hallucinations.

Not everyone is buying it. Death and Taxes dubs coffee smoking “the latest phony fad that nobody actually believes kids are doing.” Gawker notes that the websites the original source vaguely mentioned are, well, obvious satire. And our fair neighbors to the north at dug around to look for evidence of said shocking teen coffee-smoking trend, but they only managed to turn up a Reddit page with one kid’s coffee-smoking account from two years ago, a Yahoo Answers page, and a few random YouTube videos. finally assures us that “Kids smoking coffee is about as much cause for panic as other made-up trends like vodka-soaked tampons, butt-chugging and rainbow parties.”

Media Keeps Getting Lower

Hmm, sounds about right. Obviously caffeine is addictive—it’s a stimulant, and it provides a particular type of buzz that billions of people across the world rely on to get through their morning. But coffee isn’t illegal for a reason and to me, the notion that kids smoking coffee is some scandalous nationwide cause for alarm just seems to fall…pathetically flat. Come on, guys. Really? Coffee smoking? Really? That’s the best you can do?

The larger question here is why our news media seems to be on a perpetual quest for humiliating accounts of Awful Idiotic Teens Done Wrong. Like, can’t we leave the kids alone? For a sec? They have enough on their plates to worry about already—grades, extracurriculars, after-school jobs, pimples, looking cool, losing their virginity and getting into college, to name a few.

I tend to agree with the random older fella KNTV randomly interviewed for his random opinion in the original (random) story. He wisely noted, “We’re about to legalize marijuana all over the states. I think we can live with a few bean-heads.”

Uh … Whatever bean-heads are.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.