E-cigarettes entice younger generation

E-cigarettes+entice+younger+generation

Maddie Murphy


Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s smoking lounges in schools were ordinary.  According to a Los Angeles Times article, the 1978 law allowing school districts to set up smoking areas in school was adopted to move student smokers from bathrooms and into separate areas.  However, when the law was first adopted, health risks associated with cigarettes were not widely known.
Nearly 40 years later, the dangers of the chemical- and nicotine-filled drug are plastered everywhere, from doctor’s offices to the internet.  Vaping, or using an electronic cigarettes, may seem harmless because it does not contain tobacco.  However, it still has negative effects.
In 2013 nearly three times as many high school students in Missouri smoked cigarettes as electronic cigarettes, according to a study by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Within four short years, that trend has flipped.
Today, a new study by the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that almost three times as many high school kids vape as smoke cigarettes. The same study finds that even middle school students have a strong preference for vaping over smoking.
An article in Science Daily, noted that last year roughly one in every four Missouri high school students and more than one in every 14 Missouri middle school students confessed to using some form of tobacco, whether that be through cigarettes, cigars, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or any other form of tobacco. RBHS students, including junior Dylan Soper, are no exception to this epidemic.
“I would say that 50 percent of my friend group vapes, but they don’t do it for the buzz,” Soper said. “They just do it for tricks. They don’t really use nicotine.”
Clinical Professor of Respiratory Therapy at the University of Missouri-Columbia Jennifer Keely says there are significant benefits to vaping without nicotine as opposed to with it. With that being said, the negative effects are abundant.
“Sure, there are benefits [to vaping] without nicotine,” Keely said. “Users wouldn’t develop a nicotine addiction, which is good, of course. But they are still exposing their lungs to potential irritants and developing a hand-to-mouth habit that might be hard to break later. Also, the devices and liquid aren’t cheap.”
In addition to the physical investment associated with vaping, the habit is also a monetary expense. The expensive nature of this hobby has led many away from vaping, including Soper.
[quote]The vape [pen] that I bought was almost $300 total, and I’m out almost another $200 in juice all together, so I’ve already spent $500 on vaping,” Soper said. “I just don’t see the point of doing it when the buzz only lasts five minutes now, which is not as long as it used to be. Now, I don’t really do it unless I’m with friends. It’s more of a social thing.[/quote] As a professor of respiratory therapy, Keely finds it hard to see why the teenage norm of vaping has reached the point it has. Despite this factor, she sees the trend in action on a daily basis because of her job.
“The increasingly popular vaping culture has glamorized e-cigarettes, particularly with younger users,” Keely said. “There is a vaping subculture in which pictures of users creating huge plumes of vapor around and [talking] about ways to get the smoothest ‘hits,’ and the biggest nicotine buzz are common.”
While Keely says e-cigarettes appear to be a little bit safer in terms of carcinogenic properties, teens are jumping head first into nicotine addiction when vaping. Soper saw the trend developing and decided to join in.
“I started vaping about the second or third week into summer break this year,” Soper said. “I always wanted to [have a vape pen] since I first saw people using them at school because I thought they were cool.”
RBHS administration has dealt with the illegal repercussions of vaping on school property for the last couple years, but parking lot attendant Daryll Heaton has had to deal with it head on.
Heaton says his job is to enforce school and district-wide rules in all aspects, but especially in tobacco use on campus. Heaton says given the way he has seen students become addicted to vaping in the past, he would not recommend it.
“Vaping kind of took the place of chewing tobacco around Rock Bridge about five years ago, but it wasn’t an issue until last year,” Heaton said. “It was pretty crazy there last year for a while until the kids realized they were getting busted, and then it kinda died down. I definitely still see it, just not nearly as much as last year.”
Heaton says the number of students he is responsible for monitoring is part of the reason why vaping is so hard to catch.
“I have to cover from Southampton all the way to the very back of the Career Center, and at any given time during the day, a lot of students are on AUT,” Heaton said. “During lunches, I try my best but trust me, it’s not nearly as easy as it may seem. If you see someone doing something they shouldn’t be doing, don’t be afraid to report it to myself or an administrator; we keep everything anonymous.”
Soper respects the RBHS administration and their responsibility to keep campus safe for all students. Though he vapes, he is willing to comply with Heaton.
“He’s just doing his job,” Soper said. “Even though it can be frustrating at times, it’s what’s best for the [RBHS] community as a whole.”
What is your opinion on vaping? Comment down below.