Vaping Is Catching On With Teens And Students Despite The Risks


students vaping has become a major problem at highland

Caylee Caldwell, Opinion Editor

The Highland bathrooms have never smelled sweeter. The scents of strawberry and candy permeate from the bathrooms to the hallways; the aromas haunt every corner of the classrooms, and it can definitely be found at the park just down the street.
While the smell might be sweet and welcoming, the truth beneath the scent is far more bitter and intrusive.
The vaping fad has reached Highland and the administration has started seeing a rise in the student vaping trend. Students are being pulled into administrators’ offices for vaping more frequently than ever and administration is growing more wary. But the trend certainly is not isolated to Highland.
An estimated nine million American adults vape daily, and the numbers are growing. Believe it or not, vaping has been around for hundreds of years. Pharmacist Hon Lik made the first modern e-cig after his father died of lung cancer. Today, there are dozens of options available when it comes to vaping, including handheld units, small pen disposables, and battery charged and refillable options. People can choose from hundreds of vape flavors and can choose products with or without nicotine.
And one thing all styles have in common is that they are easy to conceal, making them easy to bring to school for students. With different products like vape pens and vape pods, it’s easy to take a puff whenever and wherever, unlike conventional cigarettes. And once the product gets into school, many students are bold enough to vape at Highland.
Different vaping products offer breakfast flavoring and fruit flavoring, and it’s that flavor that does the damage, but also draws people in the most. It’s the silent but tasty killer, that breakfast burrito and tasty apple, and it makes it easy to vape anywhere so that anybody can get a nicotine hit anytime. That’s one of the reasons for the increased number of students vaping on school grounds.
“It’s not our number one problem, but we have been catching people vaping here,” vice Principal Tim Porter said.  “We treat it like any other infraction.”
Students haven’t just been caught in the bathrooms, but in the hallways and classrooms too, vaping into backpacks with unscented vapor.

If a student is found using any type of electronic cigarette or conventional cigarette, the administration reacts quickly and the following precautions must be taken: they will have a talk with the smoker, they will do searches, contact parents of the user, and provide the student with more information about the harms of vaping and or smoking.
But the love of vaping seems to be winning the battle, and those who vape quickly find a smoke circle to run with.
“Kids vape on school grounds to be cool. They do it to fit in,” a junior at Highland said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
One of the reasons vaping has gained such traction is because it was marketed as a supposedly safer alternative to smoking conventional cigarettes. E-cigarettes and vaping products were barely peeking their way into the world just a few years ago and now there are increasing numbers of students out there who don’t pay attention to the damage and the true pain. That’s one of the reasons vaping seems to catch on with teenagers so much more than it does with adults. The truth of it simply is, students and young teens have an impossible sense of invincibility. Younger people don’t tend to have their priorities as straight as adults. Popularity over health, vaping over healthy lungs and easy breathing. Vaping is all new and appealing, but no one knew anything about the risks when it first became popular… until now.
Contrary to what marketers of vaping products want users to believe, vaping is not a safe alternative. The truth of it is, vaping is just as dangerous and harmful as smoking a cigarette. Lik created the e-cig in hopes of stopping lung cancer, and while he succeeded, the world of vaping has brought its own monsters out into the light.
Almost all vaping products allow for different nicotine level options, meaning people can smoke without getting addicted. This has, in fact, helped plenty of people quit completely after years of smoking. That’s an amazing thing for many people, and while that feat shines brightly, it also blinds people from the truth: the most harmful part of vaping has nothing to do with the nicotine. It’s a popular belief that without the nicotine, smokers are only inhaling water vapor; in reality, one of the most appealing parts of vaping is actually the most dangerous.
No one likes smelling cigarette smoke/tobacco and plenty of smokers don’t care for the taste of it either, but with e-cigs, that’s no longer a problem. Vaping products come in multiple flavors, such as breakfast flavors, dessert flavors, fruit flavors, etc. There’s something for everyone, at any time, but the flavoring in vaping products is one of the most harmful parts of smoking electronic cigarettes.
The chemicals found in these flavoring can cause cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and can kill off infection fighting cells in the blood stream. Some can even release formaldehyde, a toxin that affects respiratory airways, when heated. One of the biggest problems these toxins can cause is a disease called Bronchiolitis Obliterans, better known as popcorn lung, caused by the chemical iacetyl. Out of 51 tested brands of flavored e-cigs, 39 contain diacetyl. Popcorn lung is a lung infection that affects the smallest airways in a person’s lungs, causing a worse variation of asthma symptoms. Popcorn lung is incurable, and while there are ways to help ease symptoms, popcorn lung can lead to death if lung condition is bad enough.
At the Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers recruited 56 daily e-cig users in Baltimore and tested their devices. They found that, trapped in the aerosol particles of e-cigs, lurk toxic chemicals once found in conventional cigarettes, such as cadmium, nickel and lead.
So, with this knowledge, why is the trend in vaping still rising?
“Obviously, we know the danger to it, but like people say, it’s the cool thing to do,” student one said.
Vaping has caught on like silly bands and dyed hair. While adults have started using vaping as a way of quitting cigarettes, teenagers and even elementary kids have started using it to fit in, to give themselves a place in the social hierarchy, and simply because users love the flavors. There’s whole social media sites and profiles dedicated to “vaping tricks” and giveaways. There’s different colored smoke to go along with the flavors, so not only does vaping make a teenager “cooler”, but what users vape and how they vape it also matters.
“It’s also about the nicotine high. It’s kind of like a head rush and being more relaxed, but not tired like with [marijuana products]. You just want to talk and hang out and are more open,” another junior at Highland said.
Vaping appeals to teenagers simply because it’s considered a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes, and yet students can still keep their rebellious look without the consequences of burning fingers or going outside for a smoke. However, vaping products still have their own faults. In 2013 and 2014, two people died from faulty e-cig products exploding and catching fire. Besides the easily achieved rebel look, and overlooking the fact that products can spontaneously combust, teenagers also can’t help but like vaping for it’s flavor. Users say it’s easy to find that release inside the bliss of addiction, especially when it tastes so good and smells so sweet.
“I smoked cigarettes at the end of middle school and then switched to vaping, and I enjoy it better than when I did cigarettes. Having a variety of flavors is better than the tobacco taste,” student two said.
Plenty of students agree with student two, and at Highland, along with people all around, people know of the newfound risks that come with their addicting habits, and plenty of them just don’t care. The smell is too sweet, the taste too good, the pros too many for students to take the risks to heart.
“It’s not like it doesn’t concern me, I know the damage it does to my vocals, but yet I don’t put much attention to the true pain it’s causing me,” student two said.
But Highland administration is hopeful, that students will learn and change for the better.
“It has the potential to expand, but students learn healthier lifestyles all the time,” Porter said.
Highland administration is on the lookout for a solution to the rising vaping problem and in high hopes that students will learn the true risks of their habits. Meanwhile, all teachers will be watching closely for any student breathing suspiciously into their bags.