The concern around vaping is not blowing smoke

I had been talking with my friends, having a good time, when I was hit by a thick cloud of smoke of which Gandalf the Grey would be jealous.

I took it in stride, so no one would see me grimace or wrinkle my nose to stop smoke from leaking in; however, just like hairspray will always leak out into the ozone layer, smoke gets in. I was surprised when I found the smoke was more of a cloud and that it carried the sweet aroma of wild cherry.

Even so, I didn’t hesitate to gag.

Vaping and e-cigarettes – that is what the kids are doing these days. It is disgusting. They puff on them like these machines are their oxygen tanks. It makes me wonder if vapes will be found addictive one day.

These things also look weird. Vapes look the ugly stepchild of dorky walky-talkies and those lasers that you buy at Walmart. Seriously.

However, what’s even more bizarre is the role that vapes play in the scene of American public high schools. Somewhere, in between yellow buses, proms and pep rallies, fits an army of e-cigarettes? That doesn’t match up.

Additionally, North Carolina state law, G.S. 14-313, states that minors shall not be sold any product that contains tobacco which includes “vapor product or components of a vapor product.” We see how well that’s going.

American high schools flow with vape juice and honey. That’s not to say that the law wasn’t appointed in good faith, but that a lot of minors have these forbidden items in their possession.

Minors like to vape because it’s “cool.” I can give them that. It is the “in” thing.

The popular kids in high schools are vaping and so everyone else wants to – besides, it gives the more innocent kids an edge, making them look like they are flirting with rebellion and that is cool – some people think it is also cool to be a pothead.

I don’t think so, but a certain set of people do. It used to be cool to wear tracksuits to school or have a bedazzled, pink flip phone. I will never understand either attraction but once upon a ‘90s kid, both were extremely cool.

Our problem and the only way to fix the high school vaping epidemic can be seen right there. High schoolers care too much about what other people think. We all know about that. High schoolers are trying to figure out who they are and, in the middle of that process, they don’t want to get called out for sticking out, so they fold.

That’s why they all try to dress alike. The style right now is vans, ripped jeans and crop tops. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m not. They like to talk alike too. Right now, the buzzword is “oof” – the reaction to anything that’s slightly distressing or potentially wild. These sweet but rather inexperienced adolescents use it on any occasion that they can.

Vaping is just another popular thing to do, but it doesn’t stop there. Vaping is also controversially bad for us, even though high schoolers think it is harmless. If it is so harmless, why is it so cool? Try doing something more rebellious like not flossing every day. That’s a real doozy.

Instead, experts say that some vape juice contains harmful chemicals. The Journal of Drug Addiction, Education and Eradication wrote in 2015 that “e-liquids have been implicated for increasing the number of children and adults poisoned.”

Another scholarly journal, Plos One, wrote in 2017 that e-cigarettes can contain “harmful and potentially harmful ingredients including heavy metals and cancer-causing agents like acrolein.”

These machines are not as harmless as users make them out to be. One layer of the problem is that high school kids are in the dark. They don’t know about the possibility of harm or they just don’t care. They would phrase it, poetically, as “it’s whatever.” Wrong.

We need to educate the public on what is in vape juice and crack down on selling minors vape pods. The latter is especially important because so many of our minors have e-cigarettes, yet we North Carolinians have laws against just this. High schoolers are not allowed to vape yet.

Nevertheless, the legal blame falls on the heads of those who sell minors the vape pods and the machine’s accouterments. Wrath hasn’t descended on them yet, even though I can think of several vape stores in Wilmington that have sold my underage buddies a pod.

Additionally, what about those who are advertising vape products? The candy lines of vape juice seem rather juvenile to be aimed at the adult population, the proper partakers. While vape companies deny this accusation, there is still doubt left in mind.

Why aren’t vape flavors more adult then? If my elders were to vape, God forbid, I’d expect them to look for flavors like rum raisin or vanilla basil, not ‘pinkle twinkle’ or ‘yummy bear’. Those names are childish.

One vape juice even references a popular kid’s movie in their title “It’s So Fluffy Juice,” – a  despicable way to advertise. The scholarly journal Professional Safety speculated that having these flavors would lead children into vaping and then on to traditional cigarettes.

To their credit, high schools are trying to fight this epidemic. Many high schools use a citation policy, but it depends on state law. Illinois state law says that minors caught vaping shall pay a $25 dollar fine, but school officials want to tweak this for first-time offenders. They think that having an educational program on the harms of vaping would be a better idea.

A class will correct behavior. A fine may serve to only punish it.

This would be an excellent policy to have in all schools. Studies have shown that negative motivation is more effective than positive motivation and this is what these classes would consist of. They could be likened to a driver’s ed. class that shows graphic videos of wrecks.

I know I was most influenced to drive safely by watching the videos my driving school provided because those videos scared the heck out of me. Humans like to avoid negativity and pain. This is a principle that should be applied to teenagers who do not understand the harms of vaping.

Each of the harms of vaping could be laid out and explained. Another benefit to this idea would be that students who have gone through this program could also spread the message. Every generation has said they wanted to be the one to end smoking, and that includes ours.

In the process of doing that, though, we have created a void and thus a monster to live in it. E-cigarettes were intended to be an honest solution to our issue, but they have instead spun their role way out of proportion.

Action needs to be made but until we can control this problem, please keep that awful cherry smell away from me and off high school campuses. It is just not appropriate or legal. Also, because I will gag.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s