Vaping reaches new heights in student bathrooms


Mikaela Pyatte

In this photo illustration, smoke fills the 7th grade girls bathroom. Vaping has been on the uptick at Sevier Middle, and the most common location where students try to vape is the restroom.

Alli Valentine, Yearbook Editor

Vaping, or smoking e-cigarettes, is something that people will do instead of smoking cigarettes. Although it is illegal for those under 21 years old to vape, it has become a huge problem in schools all over the country. John Sevier Middle School is no exception.

“We have seen an influx of vaping over the last few years at Sevier,” student resource officer Mike Campbell said. “What’s most disturbing is the fact that we are seeing more and more vaping incidents among our younger students, particularly 6th grade.”

According to “U.S. News and World Report”, 14.1% of high school students and 3.3% of those in middle school reported using e-cigarettes.

Collin Gillian, a 7th grade student, has witnessed vaping at school.

“People were passing vapes around in the bathroom,” he said.

Another student, 6th grader Amilah Tachi, worries that vapes could be addictive.

“[I saw students vape] in the girls bathroom and reported it to a teacher,” she said. “Vapes have nicotine, which is addicting.”

Middle school students often vape because vapes come in fun flavors, have colorful packaging, and can even be charged in a USB port.

“As far as ‘catching’ students with vaping devices, that number is low compared to the average number of vaping devices brought to school,” Campbell said. “The vaping devices have evolved over the years from larger, bulky glass pipes to small, easy-to-conceal plastic devices. They are easily hidden away on a student’s person.”

While many people think that vaping is not as harmful as smoking a cigarette, that it is safe, the reality is that it is still very dangerous. According to the Cleveland Clinic, some of the problems that vaping can cause include asthma, lung scarring, organ damage, and addiction.

“It can lead to health problems and other addictions in the future,” Gabriel Brooks, an 8th grade student, said.

Most students know exactly where vaping happens in the building, even if they don’t vape themselves.

“The bathroom is where most people go to vape because of no security cameras,” Dominic Rowland said.\

Gillian agreed.

“The bathroom always smells like peaches,” he said.

Students elect to vape over smoking cigarettes for a number of reasons, but the most common one is simply the smell.

“The odor from cigarettes is unmistakable,” Campbell said. “Cigarette smoke in any part of the building is immediately noticed by other students, staff, and the SRO, and an investigation soon begins. Cigarette smoke also lingers on your clothing and other personal belongings, making it easy to detect who was smoking.”

Just like cigarettes in the past, some students think that vaping is a way to be more popular.

“A lot of people think it’s cool,” Tatchi said.

Campbell agreed.

“Middle school students are under a lot of peer pressure to want to seem ‘cool’ by vaping,” he said.

The consequences for a student vaping at school vary depending on how often they have been caught.

“There are always school consequences beginning with the first offense, being one day out-of-school suspension,” Campbell said. “[There’s a] notification to the student and the parents from the SRO that if caught again the same school year, they will be cited to juvenile court for underage possession of a vaping device.”

Sevier administration has taken many measures over the last few years to cut down on vaping in the building.

“There are some high schools that have implemented ‘electric vape detectors’ in their problem areas,” Campbell said. “We’ve also implemented the use of hand-held metal detectors. A student is only scanned with the metal detector if they are suspected of having and concealing a vape device.”

One student, who admitted to vaping and asked to remain anonymous, advises students to stay away from vapes.

“I would say don’t vape, just so you don’t become an addict,” she said.