Vaping Cast Clouds Over C.H.S.

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Vaping Cast Clouds Over C.H.S.

A display of different vaping devices. Photo courtesy of Sarah Johnson

A display of different vaping devices. Photo courtesy of Sarah Johnson

A display of different vaping devices. Photo courtesy of Sarah Johnson

A display of different vaping devices. Photo courtesy of Sarah Johnson

Casper Henneman

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Once a trend starts, it usually dies off within the next few weeks, or months, but the nation’s most dangerous teenager fad has been going on for an uncomfortably long amount of time. Vaping is an activity that a large percentage of teenagers take part in around the world; It not only leads to health risks immediately, but has also proven to be a gateway to cigarettes for teenagers. Most teenagers don’t even know exactly what is inside the vapor that is inhaled into their lungs. While most adolescents feel vaping is no more than a sweet, fruity treat; vaping is much more dangerous than many people have bargained for.

The popular vape juice for teenagers consists of a salt-based juice with a concoction of different acids for flavoring, and usually a large dosage of nicotine. Teenagers use vapes, such as the Juul by Pax Labs, as a habit, as well as a social tool. With vapes trending, so are addictions; kids will go through great lengths to get their hands on any type of nicotine rush through their system. This is why vaping has lead teens to smoking, smokeless tobacco, and gas station cigars, just to get their nicotine fix, since they are much cheaper on a high schooler’s budget.  At C.H.S., it has become nearly an epidemic, with a decent percentage of the student body owning or having used a vape at some point.

Recently, while the vape surge has been at its highest, the FDA has taken the wheel, taking an initiative to ban fruit-flavored vape pods, and ending mass marketing over social media.

“I think it will [limit vaping] once it is fully enacted,” Dr. Eric Irizarry, C.H.S. principal said.

C.H.S. has had its struggles controlling the vape-scene. Nowadays, it seems like everyone and their sister has their hands on a vape of one sort or another. Dr. Irizarry and other administrators have been working on solutions for the limit of underage vaping, especially in the Charlottesville City School system.

“We have substance abuse interventions for students who have been caught multiple times,” Dr. Irizarry said. “We also have a PSA going out to parents in December.”

As far as the student body goes, there is a mixed opinion. Some students believe that vaping isn’t a big deal and all it does is give you a five-minute buzz.

“I only do it because my friends do it,” an anonymous student said. “It feels good, tastes good, plus the health risks are much less than the alternative.”

Others believe the opposite extreme: they will get cancer as soon as any vapor touches their lungs.

“People who Juul at school are idiots,” another anonymous student said. “They might as well pull a fire alarm while holding a torch.”

Other views on vaping ranged from saying the school and government should focus on school security and gun safety rather than vaping, to other students saying they should be allowed in school.

Rumors about vape detectors in the bathroom started floating around earlier last month. Some students expressed their feelings of intimidation and deception towards the administration, as a photo of the so-called “vape detector,” was identified as a motion sensor for the lighting. Dr. Irizarry had no comment on the situation.

It is not easy to identify health risks of vaping, as many sources have struggled to put together real statistics and evidence about why it is so dangerous. That being said, it is impossible to find health benefits, since the only ones glorifying the products are the ones selling them.

“The issue we have with vaping,” Dr. Irizarry said, “is that a person can consume the equivalent of 30 cigarettes worth of nicotine, in a span where it’s almost impossible to smoke that many cigarettes.”

So many opinions, so many questions, an FDA investigation, and hundreds of thousands of teenagers. Will the mystery end? What are the solutions? Students say that juuling is a better health choice than the alternative. If that’s so, what is the alternative to the alternative?