CLEVELAND, Ohio — Smoking in the school bathroom has gone the way of the public phone booth. These days, kids hide in the bathroom to share hits on electronic cigarettes that look like a pen or flash drive.
Teens use of e-cigarettes, which can’t be sold to anyone under 18 years old in Ohio, is on the rise, and it’s alarming public health experts, educators and parents. All the while, vaping advocates also are urging better regulation to curb underage use.
“You walk into the bathroom and six girls are in one stall vaping,” said 16-year-old Olivia Armstrong of Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School. “I tell them, ‘I’m just going to the bathroom; leave me alone!'”
At Shaker Heights High School, 15-year-old Mariah Rogers spotted a boy vaping in a hallway. “I saw him pull it out of his sleeve and take a puff,” Mariah said. “I thought it was really sad. It’s a terrible habit to start so young.”
Kids who vape are possibly risking their health, but the long-term effects of e-cigarettes on the body are still unclear. E-cigarettes are known to give off vapor that contains highly addictive nicotine, and kids who vape at some point are more likely to try traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes, also called vaporizers or hookah pens, work by a battery that heats flavored e-juice or e-liquid inside the e-cigarette and turns the liquid into a mist that the vaper inhales. Critics say that e-juice in flavors such as chocolate, gummy bear and strawberry – packaged in brightly colored boxes – lull teens into thinking that vaping is harmless.
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