The Dangers of Teen Vaping is Scary for Many
“I like the flavors!” “It isn’t all that bad.” “It’s healthier than cigarettes.” We’ve all heard these familiar sentiments from our peers, families and friends, but why do we hear on the news how harmful vaping is? Why is this so-called “healthier alternative” putting so many people, including teens, in hospital beds? It’s simply because it is that dangerous.
The federal government deemed vaping as a “national epidemic” around three or four months ago, according to Keystone Oaks’s School Resource Officer, John Bruner, who is concerned about the real dangers of vaping. The effect of this activity is just now starting to take its toll, with 805 cases of lung injury reported in 46 states and 1 US territory, and 12 deaths that were confirmed in 10 states (CDC).
How do highschoolers feel about these statistics? Collectively, many of the freshmen here at Keystone Oaks said that vaping was “dumb” or “stupid,” and that kids should quit if they are doing it.
When asked their opinions on vaping, some of the students responded with “very bad”, “you shouldn’t do it”, “vaping kills you”, and “vaping gives you cancer.”
Most were also worried for others, but a ninth grade male, who claims to vape, said he is not “because those aren’t from [normal] vaping. Really, they’re from off-brand THC cartridges that people get. They contain vitamin E which shouldn’t be smoked.”
According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the liquid found in e-cigarettes can contain nicotine, THC and CBD oils. THC is in marijuana and is what provides the “high.” Among 514 patients who vaped, “About 77% reported using THC-containing products; 36% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products” (CDC).
A tenth grade student said she has tried vaping and thought it was stupid. She warns students, “You should stop when you know you can’t handle being without it for a certain amount of time.” This is important especially if students are missing classes because they feel an urge to vape.
So, a question for Officer Bruner; What happens if somebody gets caught in the school district vaping if they’re a student?
“Because our schools are in Allegheny County, there’s a county ordinance that Allegheny County has that you’re not allowed to be in any possession of a vaping device or even smoke it when you are in an Allegheny County school. Even if somebody is walking in the hallways and they’re holding it, that’s a violation. If a student passes a vaping device to another student, and that student simply smokes it and hands it back, then it covers that too. So you can’t smoke it, you can’t hold it in your hand, you can’t possess it, and, typically, what happens is I would then, as a police officer, fill out a non-traffic citation. And I would file that with the magistrate court.”
Although the previous male student is not opposed to vaping, he does agree that the people who vape should quit once they notice the extent of their cravings. He also suggests that Keystone Oaks should organize a group at school for the students who are trying to quit.
“They shouldn’t get punished for telling any administrators they vape, instead they should give them a plan to quit vaping, cutting down slowly with weekly reports.”
Officer Bruner and the rest of the school board understands the students’ fears of asking for help. The students who vape may worry about getting in trouble, especially through prosecution, because they are in possession of a vaping device.
But Officer Bruner encourages any student; if they are in school and have the urge to go to the bathroom, or anywhere outside of class, to vape, they should instead go to the guidance, or to himself, and talk about it.
Officer Bruner emphasized, “You’re not going to get in trouble. If you walk into my office and say look, ‘here's my vaping pen. I had the urge to vape, i need help’, I'm not going to charge you with that... However, if I catch you smoking it underneath the stairwell, that’s a different scenario. We want students to understand that if they feel the need to reach out or talk to a counselor, they can do so without the fear of getting prosecuted.”