What do you do when something advertised to be safer than cigarettes is just as dangerous?
E-cigarette usage has increased dramatically over the last six years. According to the Truth Initiative, the number of high school students in 2011 using e-cigarettes was 1.5%. By 2017, that number had increased to 11.7%.
Principal Greg Semler has seen the increase in vaping first hand. The problem of vaping began, “Five or six years ago. Originally students were unsure if it was illegal or not. When they knew it was, the problem decreased, but when juuls came out the problem grew again,” said Semler.
According to Semler, he deals with at least four cases a month of students vaping at school. The district has integrated units about vaping and the harms of it into health classes, P.E. classes, as well as Teen Insights. The administration has also sent an email to parents regarding the situation, informing parents that there is a problem and about the illegality of e-cigarettes, even if the student is 18 years old or older.
E-cigarettes were originally made to replace traditional cigarettes, and that caused a decrease in the amount of traditional smoking. “Smoking hasn’t been replaced by vaping; it is not at as high of a level,” said Semler.
E-cigarettes do not cause the smoke damage of traditional cigarettes, but most still contain nicotine which can lead students to become addicted from a young age. Semler feels dealing with things like vaping and smoking is part of the administration’s job. “Our task is to help prevent it. Our students need us to help; that’s why we’re here,” he said.
The administration wants to prevent underage smoking and do everything they can to keep students from making the mistake. “Students choose to vape because of the excitement of something different, getting away with it, and they like to push boundaries,” said Semler.
Vaping may seem like something harmless and fun to do, but it can be addictive and dangerous.