Vaping epidemic takes toll on teens

There is a lingering epidemic in town and it is not a disease. It is vaping. An addictive substance known as nicotine travels to people’s lungs as they inhale the fruity flavors of vape juice.

Vaping is a popular activity among many students. E-cigarettes contain numerous amounts of chemicals, the main one being nicotine which is highly addictive. The nicotine contained in e-cigarettes leaves students addicted and wanting nicotine during school.

In the electronic cigarette industry, all different types of e-cigarettes are made to appeal to younger generations of people. There are nearly 150 thousand flavors of vape juice that are sweet and tasteful flavors, similar to candy which is usually targeted toward younger people. The design and shape of e-cigarettes are normally shaped to be trendy and will catch the eyes of younger people with their unique design and vibrant colors.

“Banana bread and cotton candy, gummy bears, and skittles are all very sweet flavors,” chemical health specialist Julia Geigle said. “A JUUL looks like a USB drive and the Suorin Drop looks like a highlighter and so that tends to be more appealing to younger people.”

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Due to increased vaping, most bathrooms are locked during class time. Since the shutdown, vaping referrals have decreased by 75 percent.

Vaping during school

Throughout the school day, students crave nicotine and search for a place to vape. Therefore, school bathrooms serve as the perfect place.

Sophomore Jamie Runk sees vaping “occasionally and especially in bathrooms” throughout the school day.

Staff are noticing this “epidemic” more and more as the year is coming to an end and they have become more strict about it. Bathrooms are the most common place to find students vaping as individuals can do it on their own time and vape in an enclosed stall where nobody can witness their actions.

“I think our staff at school are very strict about vaping because more staff are patrolling the bathrooms to try and prevent students from vaping,” junior Alayna Christian said.

In high school, students want to conform to society and fit in with their peers. Therefore, one’s peers can have a large influence on ones decisions. Students want to be accepted by one another. Therefore, students follow along with what others are doing in order to fit in.

“I think adults have to understand that a lot of students are going to try vaping because it is so trendy,” Runk said.

The chemicals in e-cigarettes

Many students are unaware of all the different types of chemicals found in e-cigarettes. There are chemicals in JUUL pods such as glycerol, propylene glycol, benzoic acid and the main substance, nicotine.

“80 percent of adolescents think e-cigarettes are just water vapor,” Geigle said. “Some people don’t know that every single JUUL pod contains the amount of nicotine equivalent to one pack of cigarettes.”

This current generation of students are known as the “guinea pig generation”. Meaning, the current generation of teenagers are being “experimented” on because there is no research providing evidence on what impacts vaping will have on these individuals in the future. There is no proof of what severe health risks will be in place as well as new diseases that one could develop later on in life.

Some people don’t know that every single JUUL pod contains the amount of nicotine equivalent to one pack of cigarettes.”

— Julia Geigle

“I think it is awful for students to vape and it can lead to really bad health problems for those students in the future,” Runk said.

Not only is vaping advertised at school where one can find many students vaping in bathrooms and classrooms, but it is common to see vaping outside the school setting as well. Students see advertisements for vaping on billboards as they are driving down the highway, on television while eating a snack, and at e-cigarette stores with signs that light up with flashing lights that ones eyes cannot resit.

Christian said she sees “advertisements for vaping everywhere” and not just at school.

Health risks from vaping 

To start vaping and become addicted to nicotine at a young age where ones brain is still developing, can cause serious health risks in the future. Vaping can increase respiratory issues by constricting the airways, causing the constriction of blood vessels, and increase the risk of heart disease. Vaping can also cause mental health issues which is common in many individuals.

“It hurts your body and brain development and there will definently be long term issues,” Geigle said. “The damage done to the brain involves attention span and memory issues and just not being able to learn as well.”

Nicotine is an addictive substance that can be harmful to students. All over the world, individuals are being lured in by the appealing flavors, shapes and designs, and colors of e-cigarettes only leading to serious health risks in the future for individuals who became addicted. “Teenagers across the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Asia are effected by vaping,” Geigle said. “So it is really an issue across the whole world, but most importantly, vaping is effecting our local students.” Furthermore, vaping in school will only keep this epidemic of vaping lingering longer.