ELHS is working hard to eradicate vaping
By Sana Gupta
In decades past, cigarette smoking was the definition of “cool,” and it was common to see students sneaking a smoke in high school bathrooms. While this has been eradicated, there is a new culprit that has hit the stalls, making it easy for teens to become addicted to nicotine once again: vape pens.
Vape pens are a type of e-cigarette. Their discreet flash drive or pen-like appearance makes it easier for students to use them at school without being detected.
“Dependent upon type of vape, it is relatively easy if a student is observed [vaping] as the smoke is much more concentrated and a larger white cloud. Students’ actions sometimes give away what they are doing as well,” said ELHS Director of Campus Safety and Security Christopher Olsen.
However, students at ELHS tend to vape in the bathrooms, which is becoming a concern.
“I went into the girls’ bathroom and saw six people standing in the handicapped stall, and saw some vape smoke coming out… I did not want to be inhaling that and it made me feel uncomfortable,” said sophomore Julia Moysey.
Companies that sell vape pens state they are adamant against selling their products to minors. The websites for Juul and Phix are filled with reminders about the dangers of nicotine products for minors.
However, those warnings are overlooked by some minors.
“Phix and other nicotine products have always been appealing for teens, because they are seen as things that ‘adults do’, ” said a representative from Brewell MFG, the company that sells Phix, in an email.
Teenagers use vape pens for many reasons, one of them being that they appear safer than cigarettes.
Adding to the the appeal is the variety of flavors available for vape pens, which can include: candy, fruit, and mint.
“We do not sell our products to anyone below the legal smoking age in their state.
If someone buys our products and gives them to an underage person, we are unable to prevent that, but that is the same for cigarettes you buy in a store,” said the Phix representative.
Despite this, teens still manage to obtain vapes. Students tend to get vape pens from their friends, even underage ones.
“I got my Phix and my Juul from underage friends, but others get them from their 18+ friends who got them from the gas station,” said a senior who wishes to remain anonymous.
Vaping can lead to a decreased ability to fight infections, “popcorn lung” (a buildup of scar tissue in the lungs), and poisoning through the accidental ingestion of vape liquid, according to studies conducted by the University of North Carolina and Harvard University.
According to Juul’s website, each Juul pod has the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes, or 200 puffs.
For these reasons, ELHS is taking measures to keep students from partaking in this habit. Students who use or possess a vape in school are given a two-day in school-suspension and are subject to a police referral, which results in a $75 fee. If smoke alarms go off as a result, additional consequences are administered for disrupting the school, according to Mr. Olsen.
“On school level, we are taking more steps to ensure the bathrooms are not utilized as a common area to vape as well as continuing to apply discipline when students are found to be in possession of smoking/vape materials,” said Mr. Olsen.