Vaping: Causes & Effects

Lily Yoss, Staff Writer

According to Medical News Today, “vaping is now the most popular form of tobacco use among teenagers in the U.S. E-Cigarette use by 900 percent among high school students from 2011 to 2015.” E-Cigarettes were first introduced in 1967 and weren’t popularized until 2003, first in China. The non-tobacco cigarette was thought to be a safe and harmless method of smoking by replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, flavored air. That 900 percent rise seems like it didn’t touch us.

In a recent anonymous survey, 127 students answered questions about vaping. 34 students (27%) have used a vape or JUUL at least once. The other 92 (73%) have not. Most to all of those students said vaping was “stupid”, “dumb”, “not cool”, “ignorant”,”reckless” and “shouldn’t be done at school.”

According to SRO Scott Hofer, “This year alone there have been more, Minor in Possession of Tobacco citations written then the previous three years combined.” The CDC says, “E-Cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.” According to Truth Initiative, “one JUUL pod contains 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine.” While the long-term effects that vaping has on the human body are unclear, vaping is entirely too powerful over young people and there are still causes for concern.

First, there’s the repercussions of vaping on school grounds or having a vape on their person at school. From a legal standpoint, “anyone under the age of 18 will be issued a $75 citation through the city of Gardner. The fine for Minor in Possession of Tobacco is $25 plus a $50 dollar court fee,” says Hofer.

Principal Mark Meyer describes school policy as having “pretty clear language […] but when the vaping scene came upon us a few years ago, we had to implement that language into school policy.”

From an administrative standpoint, Meyer says, “we try to treat all of our discipline, unless it’s one of the highest levels of referrals, in the progressive manner. Meaning there’s a first offense, second offense, and third offense. Each offense grows as a consequence.”

“The consequences are there to serve as a deterrent for future practice, regardless of whether it’s about JUULing or any other violations of the school code of conduct. Obviously, some of it deals with safety and there needs to be some precautions taken that way. For the most part, when we say that a student is receiving X consequence or Y consequence, it’s intended to serve as a deterrent so that they don’t repeat that behavior more so than a ‘by golly, here’s your punishment,’” says Meyer, describing the intent of the consequences of vaping.

Then, there’s the addictive properties vaping can have, and the problems that nicotine dependency can create. Anonymous sources have said that they “only vaped out of peer pressure,” or they “weren’t educated enough about it.” That can lead to a harmful aftermath. According to Know the Risks, the brain is still growing until age 25, so kids vaping can lead to developmental risks in their brains. “The part of the brain that’s responsible for decision making and impulse control is not yet fully developed during adolescence. Young people are more likely to take risks with their health and safety. These risks include nicotine addiction, mood disorders, and permanent lowering of impulse control.” Vaping also changes the way that synapses, the creation of a new memory or the learning of a new skill, are built. According to the CDC, “young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed.”

Vaping can also lead to smoking cigarettes. According to Kerk School of Medicine at USC, “research conducted by USC director of Health, Emotion and Addiction Laboratory, Adam Levanthal, has shown that teens who smoke e-cigarettes with a high level of nicotine are more likely to use other nicotine products, such as traditional cigarettes. The same thing was said by Newport Academy, that vaping with nicotine could potentially lead to a nicotine addiction and smoking cigarettes. As is common knowledge, cigarettes are far more harmful than vapes.

When it comes to incorporating this issue into classes, Meyer says, “We have talked as a faculty about where in our curriculum do we have instruction and educational background tied to this. It’s in the usual places you would expect, anywhere where we address the concept of tobacco we are now including concepts related to electronic cigarettes as well. So, your health and science classes, probably some areas in family and consumer science. Those are built in components.”

The causes of vaping can range from peer pressure to just liking the buzz, as sources have stated. While the 900 percent rise in teen vaping seems to have not affected our school, vaping is still considered to be, by many sources, stupid, reckless, and dangerous. The pattern, however, seems to be the same in every situation. As a suggestion, consider the health issues that could come with this trend before picking up a vape.