Don’t puff your life away

Underage vaping problem in public schools


Teenager enjoys the buzz feeling that the vape produces.

Helen Mata, Writer

   As she grabs the “flash drive,” she sucks in the vape juice inhaling the nicotine and exhaling the health out of her lungs. She releases a huge cloud of white, milky smoke. She sits back and enjoys the relaxing buzz, absent of the knowledge of how it would affect her in the long run.

  Underage vaping has been a controversial topic around the world. E-cigarettes contain many harmful substances that students are not aware of. In 2018, more than 3.6 million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. 20.8 % of the 3.6 million are high school students alone. Many students in our school are beginning to add to that percentage of underage vapers. Aware of the growing problem, administrators are concerned for students’ health and  strategize a course of action.

  “I feel sad when I catch students vaping. I don’t want our students to be in harm’s way and that’s what I try to explain to students when they are assigned  a consequence,” Assistant Principal Englert said.

  Vaping has become a problem here in our school. Students ignore the problem,  don’t mind the rule, and find whatever hideout is available making the problem bigger.

  “Legally, I know minors aren’t allowed to consume any products containing tobacco or nicotine. But here in Stephenville, no vaping is allowed on campus. Even if you are over the age of 18,  you still can’t vape here at school”,” Englert said.

  Discipline varies here in our school. If students are caught vaping. It can range from many types of punishment, whether it be ISS, OSS, or DAEP. It all depends on how many times a student has been caught.

  “It might be three kids at once, a whole group, or an individual person. The punishment varies depending on how many times it has happened, and what paraphernalia is found. ,” Englert said.

  Initially vaping started out as companies marketing it to help people to stop smoking. Later, businesses took advantage of the opportunity to make money and brought their main focus to teens. Nicotine has many different effects on your body. It makes you addicted to the substance, so you can’t get off of it.

  “I started vaping about a year ago. We were all hanging out at my place, and I saw my friend pull out his JUUL. Out of curiosity, I instantly wanted to try it. After I had tried it, I didn’t want to stop inhaling all the different flavors that were released. Countless people around me vape on the daily. None of my family members vape but my friends? I can’t even count that high,” Michelle Mitchell said.

    Popcorn lung is a slang term used for a condition called bronchiolitis obliterans (B0). It is caused by inhaling chemicals that scar the lungs and in effect stop them from working properly, by reducing their capacity and efficiency. It’s hard to know how much of these chemicals you breathe in when you vape. Some studies show that high-voltage e-cigarettes have more formaldehyde and other toxins than standard e-cigarettes, this could possibly cause cancer.

  “I have heard of a condition called popcorn lung. It forms clusters on your lungs if you do it pretty regularly. Unfortunately, it’s kind of like when cigarettes first came out. In the 60s/ 70s you would see people smoking cigarettes all the time, and years later, they have all these campaigns for lung cancer…,” Englert said. “Right now, vaping is in its early stages, so we may not know what the side effects could be until 20 years from now”.

  Although many students vape, others are realizing and feeling the side effects of vaping. Vaping can expose the users lungs to harmful chemicals. The ugly truth is that smoking causes coughing, wheezing, headaches, and shortness of breath. This is a major flag for athletes. Smoking/vaping can reduce their ability to play the sport and perform other activities they enjoy. For example, running a mile, singing in choir, or playing your instrument for a concert.  

  “I’ve been noticing the difference lately. Everytime I go for a run, I get dizzy or my breaths get shorter. When I noticed, I proceeded to try and stop vaping, it scared me,” Frank Peterson said.

  Students do know the long term effects and are educated about them. Some are mindless about the situation and choose to ignore it. Many of them them only vape to forget about things or get a buzz.

  “I enjoy vaping cause the buzz feeling makes everything go away. Vaping gives me a tingling, numbing sensation. I do know the side effects, but I choose to ignore them,” Mitchell said.

  AP Englert wants what’s best for students. Many parents don’t realize what vaping entails.. Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor that is created by a personal vaporizer (mod) or electronic cigarette. Because there is no combustion or burning, a person who is vaping is not being exposed to the  chemicals that come from tobacco cigarettes, but products used for vaping can contain nicotine in order to simulate smoking tobacco cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigs, cigarettes, personal vaporizers, or mods) are electronic devices that adults (or minors) use as an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. They are powered by batteries and create a vapor instead of smoke. Most vapes, including JUULs do contain nicotine. All JUUL e-cigarettes have a high level of nicotine. A single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. Nicotine exposure during teen years can mess with normal brain development and alter physical structure of the brain, creating permanent changes. Evidence suggests that teens who vape are more likely to smoke cigarettes.

 “Students, think about what you are putting into your body. Think about 5 or 10 years from now. Do you want to be addicted to a substance you’re having trouble quitting? To parents, I would say get educated on what vaping really is. It’s not just a liquid that’s a fruity flavor. There’s a reason why you can’t buy it unless you’re 18. I advise to monitor your kids and just talk to them about it,” Englert said.


*Names changed for the protection of identities.