Vaping. It’s a new trend that we just can’t steer our generation away from. Once upon a time, our generation was deemed free of cigarette smokers. Many kids would never think of smoking a cigarette, memories of D.A.R.E and anti-cigarette commercials were drilled into our brains. However, a “safer” alternative hit the markets a couple years ago, that has changed the stigma of nicotine consumption completely. That alternative was none other than vaping. In the past decade, we have reversed a generation of “smoke free kids”, back into the addiction that’s plagued this country for over a century. How did this happen, and how is it affecting us?
My first experience ever seeing one of these devices was back in 2013. My father, who’s been a cigarette smoker for well over half of is life, bought a vape pen with its own vape juice. Vaping was portrayed as the salvation per say for cigarette smokers. The easier alternative to quitting, a quick buzz with none of the guilt of a cigarette. In 2013, Blu e-cig commercial, Jenny McCarthy describes the e-cigarette as a “no guilt” alternative to cigarettes. She focuses on the lack of tobacco, rather than the surplus of nicotine. When they first came out, e-cigarettes and vapes were merely described as water vapor. They lacked vital information regarding the nicotine counts in them, as well as other chemicals included in them. Many other commercials circled the media during their market breakthrough. These commercials all inaccurately described vaping as a no risk, glamourous alternative to cigarettes. These claims made by numerous vape companies, have recently been put to shame, as we now know what dangers hide behind vaping.
The health issues recently found related to vaping are nothing short of shocking. According to CNN, six people have passed away from lung disease related to vaping. There have been roughly 450 possible cases of lung illnesses associated with vaping. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and state health departments have been steadily investigating these outbreaks. The fatalities may be linked to a certain substance called Vitamin E Acetate. This chemical is used in many skin care products and is rendered safe when applied to the skin, yet when ingested, its oil like consistency can cause discrepancies when allowed contact with the lungs. It’s important that we as a student body stay educated about these issues, and safe. Nicotine based products should never be bought off the street, as the ingredients inside could be misleading, and cause more harm that intended.
After interviewing the school nurse, even more suspicions about vaping came up. “We still don’t know for sure what chemicals are causing the harm in the different juices that are sold, every manufacturer makes them with different ingredients due to the fact that there’s no federal regulation on what can and cannot be in the product,” McQuillian said. In the clinic, they also include many pamphlets about the effects, short and long term of vaping.
We all know the standard punishments, suspension, in school restriction,and even Douglass at times. Yet, what is being done to help this issue, and eliminate the addiction among our students. In our school’s office, we have a team of security members such as John Hicks, the Student resource officer, and a couple others who try and control the vaping issue in our school. Hicks said that in the past two years, he has caught nearly 60 students using nicotine in the bathrooms.
“When a device is found on students, it is confiscated and tested,” Hicks said. Our school is constantly working to cut the use of nicotine with teens down and will continue to do so. There is also a team of counselors who have a group that talks about drug abuse, nicotine addiction and alcohol issues if students are having trouble with an addiction.
Vaping isn’t just a national issue, it’s a problem we face in our very own school. First, we asked them why they vape. The answer is simple. To get a buzz. Numerous students report they are indeed addicted to the “buzz” given to them by a nicotine product. Students also reported a variety of vape products they use, and the staggering sum of money they have spent. Students reported that they’ve spent well over $100 on vaping supplies. Some students reported they needed it in school and lack focus without the intake of nicotine. All in all, we have a severe issue here; We have students that are hooked on mass amounts of nicotine, that acknowledge their addiction, and have full conscious account of the amount they use. Yet they’re so scared of the aspect of punishment that they suffer with their own addictions, without seeking help. As a community, we need to help our children. We need to educate how harmful nicotine use is, and we need to provide a substance help. As a community, we need to work towards helping these students with their addictions.