Age restrictions on the horizon for vape pens

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Sean Garfias

Smoke rings. French inhales. Ghosts. Tornadoes. These are some of the tricks people do with a vape pen. Vape pens come in variety of color which individuals use to smoke eliquid that can contain nicotine or are nicotine free, depending on the eliquid one purchases.
The use of vape pens by students caught the attention of politicians in many states. A few days ago, the Mo. House passed a bill that would make it illegal to sell e-cigs and vape pens to anyone under the age of 18.
Sophomore Wandy Perez owns a vape pen.
“I don’t use it as much anymore, but I used it just simply because it was something fun to do,” Perez said of his neon green pen. “It’s like hoola hoop dancing; you do it because it’s fun and some people like to watch the tricks you can do.”
Perez said he uses the vape pen for recreational purposes, he likes to show off smoke rings he can make with his lips or simply for the flavored smoke rather than as a way to conceal smoking illegal substances.
“If people are smoking substances out of them, then that’s on them. Chances of that happening in school are slim,” Perez said. “Everyone I met with one just uses eliquid.”
Eliquid goes into the atomizer, which is essentially a tank that holds the eliquid. The eliquid is then heated up and the liquid evaporates into vapor that is seen coming out of the mouth piece. There are different flavors of eliquid that makes the vapor taste like the flavor of the eliquid purchased.
“So if I got watermelon liquid, when the liquid burns up to make vapor,” Perez said. “It tastes like watermelon.”
Along with recreational purposes, vape pens can be used as a substitute for smoking cigarettes, others use them as an aid in their fight for sobriety of cigarettes.
“I use a vape pen because it helps you quit smoking. I use it for the nicotine, but it’s not as harmful as cigarettes are since it’s water vapor,” junior Erin Houk said. “They shouldn’t ban it [from school] because it’s better than kids going out to the north lot to smoke cigarettes.”
Houk said even if those addicted to cigarettes don’t quit, using a vape pen is “less harmful than smoking tobacco since e-cig vapor doesn’t contain the chemicals found in tobacco smoke,” according to an article on Medical Research News.
“The district is looking at writing a school policy,” said Assistant Principal Deborah Green. “It is considered a cigarette. If it’s not clearly written in stone yet, it will be soon.”
By setting a ban on vape pens, those students might resort to smoking cigarettes, which are more harmful than the use of a vape pen. With no ban against vape pens, students are most likely to make an attempt to switch from smoking cigarettes to smoking vape pens instead.
“If it’s [vape pens] being used as a step down, I think it’s better,” RBHS nurse, Tammy Adkins, RN, said. “It has valid use that way. The issue [that causes concern] is still the nicotine, which is the addicting part of it.”
Such as junior Maddy Perry who owns and uses her vape pen regularly.
“I use a vape pen because it was a better alternative than smoking tobacco,” said Perry. “ My dad kept his promise to quit smoking for me so I decided it’d be a great temporary alternative.”
While it is possible that those owning a vape pen might just be smoking the non-harmful flavored eliquids, there is evidence some people might use these types of devices to conceal the smell of illegal substances like marijuana. A Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey recorded that 32.6 percent of students in that area admitted to using a vape pen for marijuana while 23.0 percent used it for nicotine.
Despite this, Houk says because they can be used as an aid to quit smoking cigarettes, their use should be encouraged.
“I doubt a majority of people with vape pens smoke nicotine. There are way too many flavors to resort to smoking that,” Perez said. “If there is a ban to be set on it, it should be just against using it to smoke nicotine or illegal substances.”
By Sean Garfias
Feature Photo by Mikaela Acton