Can We Get Vaping Out Of Our Schools Culture?

How the health concerns of vaping are misconstrued by students and how we can dissociate this habit from are school culture.


Logan Bruss

One of the vaping posters that has recently gone up at Arlington High School.

Logan Bruss, AHS News And Sports Reporter/Journalist

Vaping’s Rise To Popularity

Vaping has been around since 2003 but the rise in popularity began in 2015. E-cigarettes were released as a way to wean smokers off of nicotine; unfortunately, they became the latest fad for underage students experimenting with drugs. JUUL was and still is one of the most popular brands pushing this epidemic inspiring invention. In fact in the past year alone, JUUL has made over 454 million dollars in revenue from different vape like devices. For most, vaping has become a fun pastime or a way to relieve stress with friends. As young adults from 14-21 are statistically the most stressed out ages, it seems almost like these devices were meant for our highly impressionable minds. A New York senator, who was left unnamed, when asked about the vape issue in high schools said he believed they rose up in younger peoples culture because of ” fun flavors” and the promise of “sexy adventures” they seemed to offer.

Well in many situations when something negative is happening around the rest of the world, we like to believe that are little bubble is safe from such horrible decisions; but in reality, the issue is always closer than it seems. Duane Fish, principal at Arlington High School, tells me that in 2016, when vaping first took off within the younger generation “a handful” of students faced suspension from vape use on school property. We can’t be sure of the number however, because at the time getting caught vaping was classified under “illegal drug-use on school property”. Whereas now vaping is in its own special category for suspensions and last year alone 28 people were caught and suspended for doing this act on school property. This number seems relatively small within our large school population of approximately 1,700, the school administration wants to see this number drop to zero and get vaping out of our school indefinitely.

What Is Being Done To Prevent Vaping On Our Campus

Let’s not pretend like we don’t know how out of control vaping is on and off our campus. I’m sure everyone at this school has seen someone going to the bathroom to meet up with some of their friends for a quick break from their ever so stressful lives. And they find that blissful escape through vape pens or JUUL pods. Then, now relaxed, they return to class where they can zone out or talk to those around them until the bell finally rings, releasing them from their torment. I mentioned earlier that 28 people last year where suspended for getting caught vaping, but this number could easily be larger if we looked a little closer . In fact, a student I interviewed, who wished to remain anonymous, went as far as to say that she believed that over 80 percent of the school vaped on campus and that most people she knew left class to go to the bathroom and vape “over three times a day”. While this may be an exaggeration, this is unfortunately a possibly realistic future statistic for us if nothing is done to prevent this epidemic. A startling fact about all of this is that if you go to any vape-user, they have little to no fear of punishment. This may be because they may have no idea what the punishment for such an offense is or perhaps that they just don’t care. And it’s that lack of caring that dangerously cannot be mapped by statistics. The punishment for vaping is the same as any drug violation, a ten day suspension that goes on your record. However, this policy is currently under revision. Principal Fish is trying to get Arlington to participate in a pilot program that, instead of taking the offenders out of school, will be them a ten day in-school suspension and require them to take part in a vape education/reform plan. JUUL itself has recently launched an education advertisement campaign to discourage young vape-users from partaking in their product. They have poured more than 30 million dollars into this plan. They have also recently received new anti-vape ads that will be posted around the school pending the Superintendents approval. Alas, the aforementioned student said that she took little to no stock in past “Don’t Vape” posters posted around the school saying “No, I actually think they are more funny than anything.” But, having seen the new plan firsthand, I believe that these newer campaigns will have more of a difference than past ones. Fish said that while they are trying to keep vaping out of the entire school, he recognizes that that is unrealistic. The focus of these new signs is to convince the future generation to stay away from this dangerous past time.

The Unknown Dangerous Of Vape

Finally, after talking to a group of six students, ranging from sophomores to seniors, it is clear to me that the true dangers of vaping go unrecognized across the school. When asked them if they believed that Nicotine-Free Vapes should be unrestricted to youths and teens and they answered wholeheartedly believing that they should be given access to these devices. Fish, however, says no for two reasons: why introduce a gateway into bigger things at a young age and that there are many health risks besides the addictive well known Nicotine. There is no reason to give a laxer law when pertaining to the drug use of non-adults. It has been proven, that even when completely restricting the use of drugs, the teen population finds a way to indulge in these harmful substances. So there is no need to give them more freedom. Many teens have no idea all the harmful chemicals entering their bodies with one hit. There are actually five cancer causing toxins in just one hit that course through the body. One of the worst of these is Diacetyl, which the FDA(Food and Drug Administration) has said cause lung and heart disease when heated and inhaled, which is just what happens when vaping.