The display case in Tanya Wilson’s office is simple: an open-faced wooden box, exhibiting the various materials students use on campus to vape. There are vape pens, or e-cigarettes, of all shapes and sizes–everything from the large mods that allow for the exhalation of a greater vapor cloud, to the thin juuls that can be easily concealed in the palm of one’s hand. There are the equally unique refills of vape juice: bottles, containers, even the miniscule pods that click into juul pens, all containing different shades of technicolor fluid. It’s a fascinating array that quickly becomes frightening when you realize that everything in it has been confiscated from a student at LCHS.
“All of this is from the campus,” said Tanya. “I think maybe two of these things were confiscated last year, the rest of it is all this year.” LCHS’ head of security went on to say that our school has been experiencing a huge increase in the number of students vaping on its grounds this year.
E-smoking, better known as vaping, began as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes to help people quit smoking. It works by using an electronic pen to heat nicotine-containing liquid in until it turns into vapor, which is then inhaled like cigarette smoke. Originally, it was designed for smokers to gradually cut down on the quantity of nicotine inhaled until they could break their addiction to the substance altogether. However, due to the widely-accepted (although not factual) belief that it is healthier than smoking, vaping has become a popular habit, especially among preteens and teenagers.
While vaping has been an issue before, it has become more popular at LCHS over the last year. The bathrooms have become a prominent place for students to vape in, with students sneaking off during class. Some have even gotten so bold as to vape in class, hiding the pen in the palm of their hand and blowing the vapor into their shirt.
“Before this year I’ve never had anybody, to my knowledge, vape in my classroom,” said history teacher Brandon Carroll. “This year I’ve already caught two people doing it. It’s definitely become more prevalent.”
So, vaping is a problem on campus. How does the school plan to fix it? Well, they’re starting with education. Since vaping is a fairly new trend, the administration is working to ensure that teachers are aware of warning signs to look for in student behavior.
The school is also working to educate students on the consequences of their choices. The counseling department is working with Dr. Kip Glazer to ensure that students are aware of the potential repercussions of vaping. When somebody is caught vaping, they should expect to not only face the consequences, but also receive support from their counselor or Dr. Glazer to help them work through any personal concerns.
There has also been discussion of increasing preventive measures, such as tightening the rules regarding bathroom breaks. If a student wants to use the bathroom, they will have to sign out and sign back in, or they may also need a hall pass. And while some think that this is an effective deterrent, others wonder if such regulations would really make a difference, especially since some are willing to vape in class.
“I think that bathroom restrictions would just hurt kids who don’t vape,” said Stephanie Morehart (11). “As long as [the people vaping] don’t harm anyone, I don’t see what the big deal is.”
“I would like to say that we can just trust the students to walk freely through the halls during class, [since] we’re preparing you for college. In college, you don’t have to sit in class for the entire time and be marked ‘here’ for the entire period. You can come and go to the bathroom,” remarked school counselor Kim Lauxen. “I would like to say most of our students are mature enough for that, but unfortunately, I don’t know.”
Regardless, there is no denying that vaping has become a significant problem on our campus. Hopefully the school’s methods will be successful, and this issue will be halted in a timely manner.
“People are saying things about not having a football team because that’s dangerous,” said Dr. Glazer. “Do you not see this with the vaping? This is just as dangerous, and even more dangerous.”
This article was co-written by Natalie Berner and Stephanie Kiang