MEEKER | “Smoking for the 21st century” is one way to describe vaping. Within the last two years things seem to be spiraling out of control. It seems that kids and parents don’t fully understand the consequences that come with vaping.
Vaping is the act of inhaling a vaporized liquid from an electronic device that can go by many names such as e-cigarettes, smokeless cigarettes, vaporizers, vape pens, mods, tanks, cigalikes, JUUL, e-hookah, and hookah pens. The advertising spin says vapes contain “harmless water vapor,” when in reality they include a wide range of ingredients such as nicotine, chemical additives, flavorings and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. With these ingredients vaping is highly addicting and can cause cancer and other diseases. The high levels of nicotine in most vape products and all JUUL products affects the brain, causing lasting cognitive and behavioral impairments, including effects on memory and attention. Some side effects of vaping may include wheezing, coughing, sinus infections, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, and asthma.
“In my opinion vaping is ‘big tobacco’s’ method to trick consumers and to increase consumption of tobacco,” said Rio Blanco County Public Health Director Julie Drake
According to the statistics it seems to be working. The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is the state’s only survey on the health and well-being of young people. In 2017, the survey sampled approximately 56,000 youth from 190 randomly selected middle and high schools statewide. The results show that 33 percent of teens use tobacco products, and 27 percent of that is e-cigarettes. It’s also the second most tried substance among teens at 44 percent. The survey also shows that 100 percent of JUULs contain nicotine, and each JUUL pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
The issue of vaping has been rising rapidly within the last two years in schools. Amy Chinn, Meeker High School principal for the last four years, said during her first two years, she had no suspensions regarding nicotine, and during the last two years almost every suspension has been nicotine-related.
To help prevent the use of vaping in schools, the school board has decided to use the current municipal code for underage possession of tobacco products. It states that any person under 18 caught in a public place with tobacco products will be turned to the police and can be fined, or even turned to the courts in some cases. Since the vape pens contain nicotine, they fall under this code.
“All the students that have been caught are usually reported. It’s incredibly difficult to catch students first-hand because they’re so easy to hide,” Chinn said.
Vape pens look just like a memory stick for a computer and fit into a USB port on a computer. It is very hard for a teacher or other adult to tell the difference between this “vape pen” and a real USB memory stick. They also come in all different flavors. They don’t have a distinct smell because they come in scents such as cotton candy, chocolate, grape, strawberries, and many more. It’s easy for a kid to pull it out of their pocket and take a quick hit during class without the teacher even noticing.
“It’s okay because people use vaping to stop smoking, so how could it be bad?” asked a Meeker High School student who wished to remain anonymous.
Another factor into the reason students vape is that they say they can control the amount of nicotine in every hit, and some don’t even use nicotine at all. While this may be true to some extent, a small amount of nicotine is still nicotine. The effects are still going to be the same in the end. While some may not contain any nicotine, they still have others harmful ingredients that can affect your health. While some brands you may be able to control the amount you get, all JUUL products do contain at least some nicotine. In the end vaping becomes as bad a habit as smoking, and the health results could end up even worse in the end, as long term effects are unknown.
Many have asked where are these kids getting these products? You must be 18 to buy the product because it contains tobacco, but it’s as simple as buying them on Amazon. Amazon has a huge variety of vaping products to be delivered right to your home. It’s easy for kids to log onto a parent’s account and buy vape products without parents even knowing. Some kids may have the help of older siblings and friends that they can get them from. Access to this product is super easy but being aware of the different ways kids are getting them can get can parents prevent their children from getting ahold of vaping products.
By ALLIE WILLEY | Special to the Herald Times