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Peering through the smog that seemingly fills all the corners of public schools these days is a growing trend: vaping.

Vaping is the action of inhaling and exhaling aerosol, referred to sometimes as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette. When the device is used, the battery heats up and turns the contents of the e-liquid into a vapor that is taken in through the mouth.

There are many different vape products: Juuls, Drops, Pens, and mods. Each product can have different types of nicotine such as “salt nic” or “regular nic”, the difference being salt nic is a chemical formulation of nicotine that lowers its harshness while allowing vapers to get more nicotine and inhale less vapor.  According to Global News, Juul,  the most popular e-cigarette, has 72 percent of the market share of vaping products in the United States.

Despite its growing popularity, like cigarettes, vaping has serious effects. Medical research has found negative impacts of nicotine in metabolism, increased cancer risks, respiratory problems, and more asthma symptoms experienced by those who use a vape.

Depending on which Juul pod is purchased, the levels of nicotine vary but the base amount remains higher than off brand vapes. For example, Juul pods contain nearly double the concentration of nicotine compared to other e-cigarette cartridges such as Ziip pods, who exist similarly in the same market as Juul. Even though they contain less liquid,  Ziip pods contain 1.0 ml of liquid per pod as opposed to the .7ml found in Juul pods.

According to the Department of Health’s Florida Youth Tobacco survey in 2016, 22.9 percent of high schoolers in the state have tried a cigarette whereas 37.6 percent have tried an e-cigarette. The growing popularity seen from the e-cigarette wave has overpowered teenage cigarette smoking.

The ease by which students acquire vaping devices is partially to blame for the rapid spread of the wave. Although the public health law center in the state of Florida prohibits the distribution and possession of nicotine dispensing devices or nicotine products to persons under age 18,  and legal vapers, that being anyone 18 or older, are able to provide vaping products to virtually any student.

 “It isn’t hard to get a Juul and it’s much easier to get one on campus,”  Bill * , a sophomore said. “Senior friends and dealers can get it to us quickly and they get to make a quick buck so it’s a win-win.”

Supported by diverse groups of teens, vaping devices exist as devices that transcend social barriers.  Students who describe themselves as “hard-working and reliable” might be just as involved with a vaping device as those who similarly describe themselves as “rebellious and unbothered”. Vaping has evolved into more than just a trend for teens who have a disciplinary history and do poorly in school.

The thought process behind students who choose to participate in both legal and illegal vaping activities varies for each individual.

”Because I’m underaged it makes it a little more difficult for me to get my products but in the end it helps me deal with myself when I get nervous,” said Jimmy *.

Many students have suggested that despite the risk, they vape because they believe it helps relieve stress. Health professionals, however, are not as quick to believe that reason.

 According to Dr. Patel of Oviedo Family Health,  “From what I’ve seen, students tend to blame their e-cigarette usage on their stress and anxiety derived potentially from their school load.”

According to Business Insider in 2017, the presence stress and anxiety in an adolescents environment are one of the leading causes of teenagers being introduced to vaping.

“I started vaping sophomore year because school became a very stressful environment for me. I know it’s not great for me, but I feel that it helps me fight my anxiety and depression on a day to day basis, so I’m going to do it,” Michael * said.

Regardless of an individual’s reason,  students who use vaping products on school grounds not only put their health at risk but also are more susceptible to exposure.

According to Dr. Cruickshank , the school policy mandates that students caught vaping nicotine on school grounds, regardless of their age, will receive an In-School suspension as the minimum consequence for first  time offenders. In addition, any student caught with a marijuana vaping device will be persecuted with an Out-Of- School suspension. The school does not condone vaping of any form and any illegal smoking act where a student violates these rules will be persecuted.

Though the trend is growing plenty of students do not take the risk.

“There’s no way to justify vaping on school grounds, and if it’s illegal for you then there’s no way to justify it off grounds either,” said senior Sam Thompson.

Despite the adverse health effects and school disapproval, the growing popularity from the JUUL epidemic among adolescents remains unmatched.

“It’s crazy man, I swear they’re everywhere.” Jimmy* said.

 

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Vape haven