Teen vaping epidemic spreads through OHS

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Teen vaping epidemic spreads through OHS

Kylee B. '21, Writer

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Throughout the nation, the teen vaping outbreak has increasingly gotten worse in the past several years. E-cigarettes were introduced to the world in 2003, but recently it has become a growing problem among 12-18 year olds. Vuses, Phixs and mods are all forms of vape products, with Juuls being the most popular brand among underage teenagers. According to a 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 1.7 million high school students and 500 thousand middle school students had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, according to CNN.

Thousands of teens across the world feel peer-pressured or want to fit in with their friends, so they try vape products such as juuls. However, the addictive substance nicotine is a key ingredient in vapes, and it hooks teens to continue to use them. Teens are unaware of the various health effects of using these products and the negative consequences they could have on them in the future, both academically and athletically.

“Nicotine is highly addictive which can lead to to increased use. This exposes the body and lungs to harmful substances. Athletically speaking, a player who vapes is significantly decreasing their ability to perform. Vaping can affect a student’s ability to concentrate in the classroom as well,” health teacher Dominique Alexander said.

As of 2018, it has not been concluded how much of a long-term effect vaping can have on people’s bodies, because it is so new. However, research has made it clear vaping can cause increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, lung disease and chronic bronchitis.

Ohio Revised Code (chapter 3792) prohibits any corporation to sell nicotine products to minors under the age of 18, as well as the use of e-cigarettes on the premises of state buildings. However, when caught with a vape device on school property, the penalties can vary because punishments are left up to the school to decide.

“At OHS the first offense is two Wednesday schools, and then it goes to a suspension after that,” resource officer James Mox said.

The Federal Drug Association (FDA) and Juul are working on stopping minors from accessing its products. This specific e-cigarette has become popular among teens, especially in schools; to the point the FDA has taken action against the company. The device itself is easy to hide from parents, and with flavors like cucumber and fruit, it attracts teens. As a way to prevent this, the FDA has also restricted Juul by only allowing them to sell certain flavors in stores now as of Nov. 9.

Hundreds of kids are not educated enough on how badly these devices are for them. One individual pod, a pod being what holds the juice used to vape with, is the equivalent to smoking a whole pack of cigarettes in terms of nicotine content. Not only are kids unaware, parents are not informed on vape devices either. Numerous parents do not know what a Juul looks like, or how to spot if their children have one. OLSD has sent numerous emails to parents with information on what a Juul looks like in an attempt to combat this issue. Furthermore, a Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) group here at OHS is creating an educational program about teen vaping as another way to fight against the issue.

“We are doing research in the school as well as with some organizations working to educate students about vape usage. We did a survey and found that vaping is a common practice at OHS, and we’ve had meetings with administration about discipline and overall effect in the school,” JoAnn V. ‘19 said.

On the other hand, Juul’s response to this problem was to implement an anti-vaping program in schools across the nation. However, it soon backfired. Juul received backlash from educators who said no one from the vaping industries should be involved in implementing tobacco prevention programs. Juul’s program does not simply say to stop using tobacco, it says that students should in fact vape in place of it. The reason behind this, Juul states, is that vaping is harmless, according to Fox 13.

Because of this, teens think vaping is safe and have become masters at hiding these devices at home and in school. Students will proceed to ask to go to the bathroom and then walk into a stall to vape. They have even gone as far as to hide their Juuls in the sleeve of their sweatshirts, take a “hit” of it, and then blow it through their sweatshirt out of the view of a teacher.

“The majority of students at our school do not vape; however there are a handful who do it. We are handling this issue by upping the punishment from a two day suspension to a five day suspension and eventually I want it to be considered a drug offense,” Dean of Students Brad Henry said.

One 15-year-old girl from Milwaukee says several of her classmates have been caught vaping in the school bathrooms. Teachers are unaware and do not know how to spot a vape device when they see it, according to Fox News.

It is easy for teens to get these devices, as they simply can order them online and have them shipped to their houses, or they will buy them off of friends. A large amount of vape products are even sold in the school hallways.

The rise of teen vaping is leaving thousands of adults concerned for the future. It looks right now as if the problem will only continue to get worse. As technologies advance and generations “mature” faster, companies like Juul will continue to get support from consumers of all ages.