High school students vaping has become increasingly popular

Adults concerned of the consequences and health risks involved


By Sophia Kaufman

The popularity of high school students vaping is new news to health teachers.

The current textbooks used in health class are almost a decade old and contain no information on vaping and e-cigarettes though it is evident that teens do it.

“We just started studying it here in school in the last couple months and trying to find out do we need a program on vaping and stuff like that in the health classes, which we are going to start next year,” LHS health teacher Donald Durkin said. “It’s something so new and a lot of us adults don’t even know that it’s out there. It was brought to us from a younger person.”

E-cigarettes are an alternative for cigarette smokers, but yet 40 percent of people who vape have never used any other tobacco product. Understanding why this is requires looking at Big Tobacco company’s marketing tactics over the time-period of dramatic increase.

The FDA reports that from 2011-2015, high school students who vape went from 1.5 percent up to 16 percent. During this time, Big Tobacco had gone from spending about $6 million on advertising to $115 million.

Some of the appeal it has is related to the look and taste. At the moment there are over 7,000 flavors of e-cigarette juice. There is more than just vapor and flavor. Chemicals like formaldehyde and nicotine can also be found in e-cigarettes.

“Even chemicals that are safe flavors, that are safe for ingestion, that’s eating and a completely different form of entering yourself than inhaling something that’s become an aerosol,” said health promotion specialist Brooke Miller from the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. “So aerosol is really what is coming out of vaping devices, it’s not water vapor. Aerosol is the same stuff that is in spray-paint and hairspray that we know is harmful.”

Students who are younger than 18 years are believed to be aided by their older peers when it comes to getting their hands on a vape device, such as a juul. Sometimes even adults, who don’t know the health concerns, buy them for their teens.

“A lot of adults don’t understand how serious that an addiction can be and what nicotine really does to the developing brain, Miller said. “There are long term lasting implications of a brain who is not fully formed, who has ingested nicotine. It can affect memory, cognition, attention and those are long term implications.”

Another form of vaping that has arose in the last couple months, is juuling. A juul vape looks similar to a flash drive and can be charged by plugging it into a laptop or computer. It contains up to 200 puffs, equal to the amount in a pack of cigarettes.

“The only thing right now that you can really tell is because it’s so much longer than a flash drive,” Miller said. “Flash drives are usually only an inch or two and it’s closer to four.”

Other vaping products can look like pins or even inhalers. When you vape with devices as to be discrete, it is called stealth-mode.

Ultimately, not a lot of information is able to be provided, because it simply has not been around long enough.

“I think it should be discussed in the same way cigarettes are discussed, especially for younger kids,” senior Satori Good said. “I know there are 18 year-olds at my school who vape and it’s acceptable to 18 year-olds, though it’s their decision what they want to do. But I think more information needs to be provided in order to allow teenagers to make those decisions with all the facts.”