Students Vaping at OJHS

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For the last few years, electronic cigarettes and vaping have become a new trend. For some, these can be used to try to stop smoking actual cigarettes. However, minors have now started using these devices for fun, or in some cases to fit in with other kids.

Vaping is a way for people to get nicotine without burning tobacco or inhaling smoke. Instead, they use vapor and added chemicals. In most vapes or Juuls, flavoring is added such as mango or mint flavors. The companies who make these devices have faced backlash for using these flavors as many people think that it attracts minors.

Recent studies and polls are showing that the number of students vaping has increased dramatically. One of the most recent National Youth Tobacco Surveys found that kids under the age of 18 who had smoked an e-cigarette in the last 30 days had gone from 1.5 million in 2017 to 3.6 million in 2018. Over 3 million of these teens surveyed are in high school, while the rest are only in middle school.

Ozark is no different in terms of vaping. Over the past few years, Ozark schools, specifically the junior high and high school, have seen an increase in vaping related suspensions and detentions.

The reported incidents of vaping has risen dramatically this year compared to previous years,” says Jeff Strickler, one of the principals at the Junior High.

While many teachers and administrators are worried about this problem, students who partake in these activities don’t think that it’s a big deal. A large number of students will admit that they vape, and think its fun to do so.

“There’s no specific reason that I started vaping it’s just something to do when you’re bored,” said an anonymous student at OJH. Said student has been vaping since November of last year.

Although most places are legally supposed to ID anyone buying tobacco or nicotine products, there are loopholes that students go through. Some students use a chain of friends to get their hands on a juul, others find places online where they don’t need an ID.

“You can ask around schools and eventually you can find someone who sells vapes or juuls, that’s how I got my first one, but ordering them online is also thing that I do.”

The vaping epidemic can be very dangerous, so doctors and scientists advise caution to teens who are thinking about using electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices. As years go on, more information about the effects of the chemicals used are coming out, along with the effects on minors’ bodies and brains.

“You’re inhaling a multitude of chemicals (at least 60 chemical compounds have been found in e-cigarettes so far). Because of the unknowns, we don’t know what the long-term effects of vaping will be, but I would worry about cancer, the increased risk of dependency (studies show that using e-cigarettes increases the likelihood of smoking cigarettes), and the effect it has on brain development,” warns Brent Fuller, M.D., Beaumont pediatrician and internal medicine physician.