Vaping Concerns Increase Throughout the School, Nation

Vaping is this generation’s dangerous teenage obsession. The FDA has pronounced the use of vapes and electronic cigarettes among teens an “epidemic.” 

LCHS is not exempt from this. Students, teachers and administrators agree that vaping is a “major” problem at LCHS, and it is not just a national problem. 

“Vaping is definitely an issue at LCHS. This school year, I have confiscated close to 100 vapes. Most of them contain nicotine, but there have been others that have contained THC,” Deputy Thomas Lefever, Prevention Resources Officer, said.

“Vapes” are hand-held electronic cigarettes that transform liquid nicotine into a vapor. Much like cigarettes, the nicotine in a vape leads to a strong addiction that can lead to numerous health risks, which many teens significantly underestimate sources said.

Experts said vaping is addictive because it provides a feeling of satisfaction as dopamine emerges in the brain.  A teen’s brain is not yet fully developed, so as the brain continues to grow, so does the addiction. Vapes contain toxic metal particles such as lead and nickel which can be inhaled into the lungs.

Experts say the damage will put teens at a higher risk for lung complications in future.

Although it is a rising concern in almost every environment, vaping has caused many of the biggest obstacles within schools. Today, it is common to find students vaping in bathrooms, hallways and even classrooms.

Teachers said vaping can be disguised very easily, and it is tough to catch.

“The industry makes the vapes so they look like USB jump drives, pens or even gaming pieces. You would never see kids smoking in the classroom, yet, the vaping industry has made it possible for students to do this in plain sight,” Mrs. Lesley White, English teacher, said. 

“I am seeing a lot of students presenting with negative symptoms after hitting their vapes here at school. It changes their pulse, blood pressure, and generally makes them feel very light-headed and shaky. It makes for a very scary situation,” Mrs. Allison McWhorter, school nurse, said.

While “vapers” are putting themselves at risk for health problems, they are also putting others around them at risk. Secondhand smoke exposure can cause heart disease, lung cancers, and respiratory infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.5 million individuals who did not smoke, died from health issues originated from secondhand smoke exposure since 1964.

This includes those being exposed from vapes in school, athletic events and anywhere vaping occurs.

“It is a very big problem, and it is incredibly frustrating.  Students are consuming large amounts of nicotine throughout the school day, and they are dependent on it.  They are addicted,”  Mrs. Christie Lybarger, health teacher, said.

Adults and teens have different reasons for vaping.

Many adults vape to give up smoking despite there still being as many negative side effects for vaping.

Teens vape for different reasons.

So, why do so many teens vape?

The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 55.3 percent of teens vape out of curiosity. If a teen watches a relative or friend try it, they might also feel intrigued to do so. In addition, vape industries have targeted youth by adding selections of candy, fruit and mint flavorings for the vape. The sweet flavors are designed to draw in a younger and greater audience. 

Schools have taken a series of measures to fight vaping in schools. Vape detectors, fines, suspensions, and even the removal of bathroom doors have been taken into effect in many educational facilities nationwide.

At LCHS, the bathrooms have Halos, and cameras in the hallways, but as with most things, students have found ways around it.  

When LCHS moved to a 90-minute block schedule, many teachers escorted students to the restrooms for a quick bathroom break. However, these breaks had to be eliminated because with crowded bathrooms, vaping could be easily deceived.

Teachers and students agree that vaping is causing problems for users, but also for academics.

“Unfortunately, vaping is hurting those who vape, but it is also causing problems in classrooms,” White said.

Overall, teachers said it is important to learn the dangers of vaping before getting caught up in this dangerous obsession that will lead to numerous health problems.