Teens now have a new exposure to vaping and many high school students have followed the trend down an unhealthy path. Not only are more teens vaping, but there is an ignorant idea that vaping is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes.
Students view vaping as “safer” because they can buy non-nicotine vape juices, but still feel like they belong with the “smoker” group. Everyone in high school wants to find people they click with in order to not look lonely. Many students find this bond through smoking, which can develop a bad habit. None of them realize the amount of damage to their body that these smoking these vape juices can cause.
A study done by Ilona Jaspers of the University of North Carolina observed 594 genes associated with the body’s ability to defend itself against infections, and compared results between non-smokers, cigarette smokers, and vapers. She found that of the 594 genes, 53 were negatively affected in those who smoked cigarettes and in those who vaped, the same 53 were affected plus 305 more.
As more studies are published, it has become alarming that students are not being properly informed. How are schools trying to inform students on the harmful effects of vape? They’re not. The 27J School District website has a whole page for parents and students with information on e-cigarettes and tobacco awareness, but nowhere does it mention anything about the non-nicotine, smoking alternatives. Health teachers aren’t required to teach it either.
“Health class does focus on the most widely abused drugs: alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, crystal meth, heroin, oxy, XTC, date rape drugs, hallucinogens, inhalants, but we do [our] best [to give] our students a well-rounded curriculum. As new drugs emerge, our curriculum will [have to] evolve with them,” said Mrs. Huss, a Brighton High School health teacher.
The Colorado Department of Education provides the Health Academic Standardsand outlines what health teachers throughout Colorado must teach. According to their website, teachers only have to teach students the “prevention and risk management” of “alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs”. Smoking alternatives and/or vape specifically are ignored, and “other drugs” is very much up to the interpretation of each teacher.
“Yeah, of course I know people who vape, but there’s no drugs in it. They don’t contain nicotine, as far as I know it’s just water vapor,” said Emily Battreall (‘17).
Although Emily herself isn’t a smoker or vaper, it still goes to show how little teens know about this new form of smoking. But teens can’t be the only ones held responsible for the accessibility and popularity of these vapes.
A study done by Dmitriy Nikitin (University of California, Irving) and his team showed that there is little resistance toward teens getting a hold of vape pens and/or vape juices. Out of 120 stores, only 4 refused to sell to the underage teens in the tests.
Students not only have easy access to the vaping industry, but they are also ignorant and miss informed on the negative effects. Schools need to start doing their part to properly educate young teens. Teens need to be aware of what they are putting into their bodies, and there has to be regulations to keep underage kids from purchasing these items.