Despite school efforts, vaping continues to be a problem

by Max Robinson

Tobacco use has been a recurring issue in high schools for years. Today, many kids have chosen to vape, or “juul”, instead of using traditional tobacco products, and it’s become an epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 38 percent of 12th graders reported vaping the past year, a number that has jumped from 27 percent in 2017. Is the so-called “vaping epidemic” is as bad in Shaler as it is in other schools and is there anything we can do to stop it?
“I do it to take the edge off. Sometimes you just need a quick buzz in school,’’ one student said. “I need something that will make me relax, ya know?”
Numerous students who vape in school gave some excellent insight to the core of the issue.
“I don’t think it’s worth the risk, but I do it anyway,” another said. “I’ve thought about quitting but I haven’t yet.”
They gave some varied answered when asked why they do it in school.
One said, “I’m addicted; I know it’s not healthy, but I need it.” Another gave it to me straight.
“I do it in school because it’s fun, not because I’m a fiend.”
The students all felt the risk was not worth the reward, but continue to do it.
“I don’t see that [vaping] has slowed down at all,” Principal Dr. Tim Royall said. “It’s incredibly difficult to stop repeat offenders.”
Royall’s claims aligned with what the students told me. Royall suggested to the student body to, “do your own research [on vaping]”, to determine if you really want to do it or not. Are the current vapers aware of the risks at hand?
“You’d have to be dumb to think [vaping] is harmless,” one student gracefully told me.
The members of the student government also had plenty to say on the subject. “When I walk into the bathroom, there’s just a mango fog,” a sophomore rep said. She continued saying, “…it’s gotten so bad they took the doors off the stalls.” Royall countered this statement saying, “I would never intentionally remove a door for that reason…” One girl said that even secondhand ‘vape’ was an issue in the bathrooms.
“It’s hard [to go to the bathroom] when my sinuses are burning when I walk in”. The student government agreed that hiring more security staff or patrolling the bathrooms more often may be a potential solution.
No one had a fool-proof way to stop it, but I was reassured by Dr. Royall that the school was trying new ways to combat the issue at hand. At the same time, those that currently vape in school don’t plan on changing their actions. “At the end of the day, I’m still gonna [vape] until I eventually get caught.”