Vaping: Trading One Addiction for Another


Cartoon by Olivia Lin

Inhaling and exhaling is an essential process that everyone does without thinking. However, this process can be something more: vaping. Whether it be through cigarettes or vapes, the use of products with nicotine among teens is not a new occurrence and has been a prevalent issue. However, a CNN report published on April 6, 2018 raised a major red flag. This article included a 2016 report from the US surgeon general which reported a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students from 2011 to 2015. Moreover, by 2016, according to a National Youth Tobacco Survey, 1.7 million high school students have been using e-cigarettes within a span of 30 days. If nicotine use by teenagers increases at the current rate it is, if not faster, the United States could be dealing with a widespread epidemic.

Almost all students are taught to say no to drugs and learn about the harmful of effects of using them. Yet, they some still use them. Why? One reason may be the increased prevalence and use of technology in society today. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, seven in ten teens are exposed to e-cigarette ads,  with a majority of those ads being retail ads and internet ads. These advertisements show vapes as something that is unharmful and fun which can be widely attributed to the fact that vapes come in flavors that are appealing to teens. According to Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a 2-year investigation found that major social media campaigns are active in more than 40 different companies around the globe, and that these campaigns target teenagers. “They have a systematic set of campaigns where they fundamentally use young people as youth ambassadors. In some cases, they pay young people with high levels of followers [on social media platforms] and pay them to attend parties and post to their network about the parties… That’s troubling in so many ways.”  One way that it is troublesome is the increasing nicotine addiction among teens. As the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey stated in an interview with the NY Times, the marketing of e-cigarettes is “not about getting adults to stop smoking, [it’s] about getting kids to start vaping, and make money and have them as customers for life.” According to the Center for Addiction,  the nicotine contained in e-cigarettes and other vaping products may actually perpetuate addiction, in some cases making it even harder to quit smoking. As assistant principal, Mr. Melvin points out,  “High school students that engage in this type of behavior do not fully understand the health risks associated with putting these levels of nicotine into their bodies.”  

Despite announcements and warnings from administration, some students take vaping even further and do it during school. Because vapes are small and easily concealable, they can easily be sneaked into schools and even be used in classrooms. Whether it be going to the bathrooms or taking a hit and swallowing the vapor, vaping has become a new problem in schools as teens use their vapes discretely and further feed their nicotine addiction. Vaping in schools is occurring all over the United States and even Morris Hills. Many students and even administration have noticed various characteristics that are attributed to vaping. “Walking past the bathrooms, I can smell a fruity scent only to realize that people inside have their Juuls and are just vaping away,”  junior Ajay Venkatraman said. “I feel like vaping can seen as a blight in our generation and that many of us are becoming susceptible to it.”

Most people, if not everyone, know that vaping is a pressing issue in today’s society, but what is being done against it? After facing pressure from the FDA, Juul, one of the largest vape companies, announced that it would stop selling its flavor pods in stores in hopes of stopping teen vaping. Now, these flavor pods can only be purchased on Juul’s website by customers who are verified to be over 21 and stores that invest in age-verification technology. As far as Morris Hills goes, the administration has implemented a procedure that they will follow whenever an occurrence of vaping is discovered during the school day or at school events. This includes an in-school suspension (first offense), a screening by the school nurse for any safety concerns, notification to parent/guardian, and an immediate medical evaluation and drug screening. “We need to immediately screen students as its impossible to tell whether students are using vapes with nicotine, no nicotine, or THC,” stated Mr. Merle. “Even if the drug test comes back negative, students will still face disciplinary consequences.”

It is undeniable that vaping has became a norm in many schools around the nation, including Morris Hills. However, with proper action this harmful habit can end and ultimately create better students and a better school environment.