By Logan Miller & William Malizia
On December 18, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, made an announcement stating, “I am officially declaring e-cigarette use [vaping] among youth an epidemic in the United States.”
The amount of students who vape is increasing at alarming rates. It was reported by the FDA in 2018 that 3.26 million highschool and middle school students were currently using e-cigarettes.
What’s the Purpose of Vaping?
Vaping is supposedly meant to be an alternative to smoking regular combustible cigarettes. With claims like having less chemicals than an ordinary cigarette, but less chemicals is not the same as having none.
To further counteract vapes “anti-smoking” ideal, it has been found in studies that people who vape actually have an increased chance of smoking regular cigarettes. As stated by Yale Health Researchers, “Vape devices have not been proven to help adults quit smoking.”
Why is this so Bad?
One word. Nicotine. Between 2017 to 2018, the amount of high schoolers vaping has increased 78% (11.7% to 20.8%), and the amount of middle schoolers vaping has increased 48% (3.3% to 4.9%).
Within a one month period, 11% of high school seniors, 8% of sophomores, and 3.5% reported using nicotine with a vape device. These teen epidemic of e-cigarette abuse is similar to the regular cigarette use of teens in the 1940’s and 50’s.
One of these e-cigarette companies, Juul, are under a lot of pressure by the FDA for “marketing and sales practices that seemed aimed at teens and young adults” These devices with their sleek design and colorful lights, how can they legitimately say it’s not marketed towards children? And with a harmful and addictive chemical like nicotine, it is dangerous to say the less.
How it Affects Us
Our young brains are very sensitive to the effects of nicotine. Nicotine can be very damaging to a young individuals brain development, it can impact one's own memory and attention processing. Unlike with cigarettes there are many “health unknowns” with e-cig use.
Another serious problem with nicotine is the addiction that quickly follows suit. Becoming an addict is like losing your freedom of choice. You’ll quickly find yourself under the control of your vaping device, not your own free will.
As warned by the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, “We cannot allow a whole generation to become addicted to nicotine” but with companies like Juul, with one pod having the same nicotine content as a pack of cigarettes, the problem has only just begun...
WHS and Vaping
Vaping at our school is not tolerated. As it states in the student handbook on page 33, it is a second level offense for the “use of tobacco products including e-cigarettes.” So don’t think that the rules only apply to combustible cigarettes, you will still get in trouble.
If you’re caught vaping the first referral is two extended detentions, second is two days of in-school suspension, third is a five-day suspension, and getting a fourth referral brings you into the third level disciplinary category which consists of another five day suspension just for the first referral.
Any student should also keep in mind that all vape paraphernalia found is confiscated and not returned to the student and/or family.
The Law and Vaping
After a brief interview with our School Resource Officer, Officer Knapp, the law says that any violation of the law for anyone 16 and under is an arrest. 15 and under is an arrest or the individuals are sent to the Community Review Board (CRB).
Students who are the ages 16-17 recieve a $50 fine their first time, but from then on the fine is worth $100. Students that are 17 can be offered to see the CRB. once there it’s up to them what happens. Usually they must do some kind of P.S.A., but they could also be required to do community service, counselling, and drug tests.
Students the ages 18 and up are not within any violation of criminal law, so they face school discipline.
The biggest advice I can give? Just don’t start. If you have and want help, there are many resources to help you, simply speak to your school counselor, nurse, administrator, or resource officer.
Written, edited, and produced by Wethersfield High School students, covering all news and events.