By Abby Allen
E-cigarettes have been becoming increasingly popular amongst teens. In the past-month, “use of e-cigarettes was 9.5 percent among 8th graders, 14.0 percent among 10th graders, and 16.2 percent among 12 graders,” according to drugabuse.gov. Vaping e-cigarettes is smoking, except with flavored, nicotine-infused water vapor instead of tobacco. The use of Juul and vape products is a trending activity that endangers students.
Health and physical education teacher Kyle Shipp discussed risks.
“These products contain nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco and it is very physically addictive,” Shipp said.
Addiction to nicotine can cause a number of health problems. And when the user continues, use of these products can result in many health problems, which is why Dean of Students David Bechinski is working on enforcing rules to eliminate these products from the halls of WCHS.
“From what I have read, they can have severe, adverse effects on users. I just read an article about a 16-year-old who was using one for 1 week. His lungs reacted to the vape vapor and he spent the next 4 weeks in ICU from a pulmonary issue caused by the vapor,” Bechinski said.
To keep kids safe from these harmful products that can lead to tobacco use, Bechinski abides by school and legal policy when a student is caught using such products.
“First offense is two after-school-detentions, police contact and a $250 ticket (depending on the age), confiscate item(s),” Bechinski said.
Not all students know exactly what they are smoking. Bechinski explains that the media and distributors of these products aren’t entirely honest about their contents and advertising.
“Many of the pods are nicotine-based. I have seen a bottle that states ‘This product contains no nicotine’ on the label; then you look at the ingredients on the same bottle and it says it contains nicotine. People are finding ways of taking other harmful things, turning them into juices and vaping them…just a bad item for kids, adults as a whole,” Bechinski said.
While it’s difficult to make the right decision under peer pressure, particularly when a dangerous activity like this is encouraged because it’s “cool,” Shipp observes that it’s still each person’s decision to choose the right path.
“It is up to each individual person to make the decision not to engage in using tobacco or e-cigarette products,” Shipp said.
While family situations and environments vary, and sometimes people are predisposed to nicotine use, it’s overall a choice. Every student has the capability to do the right thing.