Tobacco has been an epidemic around the world since it was first harvested and used. The cancer-causing plant, filled with addictive nicotine, has had a major negative impact on the world.
Alternative methods to smoking tobacco have been produced, such as vaping, juuling and smokeless tobacco. Vaping and juuling have significantly risen in popularity recently and Sevier Middle is no exception.
This school year alone, over 30 students have been expelled for vaping. Although they are marketed as safer alternatives to smoking cigarettes, vaping is still extremely dangerous.
One reason why vaping has been on the rise recently is due to its easy availability.
“While it is illegal, many students under the age of 18 have access to e-cigarettes,” Mike Campbell, the student resource officer at Sevier Middle, said.
Vaping has similar health concerns as cigarettes do. For many years, cigarettes were advertised as a good thing and science proved this claim wrong. Cigarettes are extremely dangerous, as are e-cigarettes.
“Vaping health effects are similar to cigarettes,” Traci Bowen, the school nurse at Sevier Middle, said. “Nicotine is present, which is a highly addictive drug that can stunt the growth of a developing brain and body. Nicotine is toxic; it can raise your blood pressure and cause spikes in your adrenaline, which increases your heart rate. Inhaling the vapors can damage oral cavities and the respiratory tract. Lungs can have permanent damage.”
Since e-cigarettes turn a liquid into a vapor that smokers inhale, there is an additional danger.
“The most scary health effect is the fact that what our teens are vaping can contain harmful substances that we are unaware of,” Bowen said. “The short term and long term effects are unknown in these cases.”
Most e-cigarette users are under the age of 18. Using tobacco products under the age of 18 is illegal for minors. Despite this fact, most of the advertisements are geared towards kids.
“Most of the flavors are for kids,” Campbell said. “Adults don’t care about cereal, mint, and candy flavored vapes.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, teen use of e-cigarettes has risen 78% in the past year. Many students at Sevier Middle have started vaping.
“This is strictly illegal,” Campbell said. “I have sent many students to juvenile court with a notation from a police officer over vaping and e-cigarette use. The punishment is even harsher if [tobacco use] is done on school property.”
In addition to the dangers of e-cigarettes, they are also quite expensive. Sevier Middle has a large poverty rate among students. Minors are not allowed to purchase them, so getting e-cigarettes should be even more difficult for students. Nevertheless, many still get a hold of these devices.
Health issues are a big concern of professionals, in addition to the legal and economic aspects of using e-cigarettes.
“Like alcohol, the only reason that vapes and similar nicotine products aren’t banned is because it makes tobacco and nicotine companies money, which then equates to money for the government in the form of taxes,” Reagan Anderson, an eighth grade student, said.
Still, the FDA is considering new rules to help stop teen use of e-cigarettes. Their proposal includes ending sales of vapors with flavors that appeal to kids and banning marketing e-cigarettes to children. All things considered, tobacco use in students is extremely bad and dangerous.
“Using tobacco is bad and will definitely lead you to a bad path in life,” Campbell said. “Abstaining from use is the best way to stay healthy and stay out of trouble. If you need help to stop, please talk to a trusted adult.”