ASHLAND-GREENWOOD JOURNALISM CLASS SEEKS ANSWERS
The New York Times recently posted an article stating that in order to get teenagers to listen to concerns about any serious topic, “we should start by recognizing that they may have already drawn upon firsthand observation or personal experience to arrive at their own conclusions.”[i] So, that’s what the AGHS Journalism staff set out to do: collect feedback from the AGHS student body on the topic of vaping.
“Do you vape?” This seems like an odd question to be asking middle and high school students. But in 2018, it’s a reality.
Vaping: using an electronic cigarette to inhale vapor infused with flavor, nicotine, both or neither.
According to Lisa Rapaport, a writer with Physician's Weekly, most recent data shows that 3 million school-age children, including more that 600,000 middle school students, have tried vaping.[ii]
Many people argue that there is nothing wrong with vaping because it’s not addictive, but some Juul pods contain more nicotine than a pack of cigarettes.[iii]
Perhaps the allure of vaping is the fact that it’s so easy to get away with. A Juul can be as small and as sleek as a USB Flash Drive, making it easy to hide in a bag, or even socks. The smell of the vapor is also misleading.
“Vaping is gross, but with the different scents, girls in the locker room can just say ‘That's the fruity smell of my perfume’,” says Senior Averi Goff.
Many kids understand that it's a bad decision but do it anyways. One AGHS student said “I did it because my friends were doing it and they wanted me to try.” Many others stated that they think that kids “do it for fun” and “to get a buzz”.
Senior Kayla Farber says, “I think some people just do it for the aesthetics.”
But others see it from more of a therapeutic standpoint: “Technically vaping does not do anything for me other than to stop other addictions I would rather not like to have.”
According to Senior Jay Hansen and Language Arts Instructor Julie Casper, “Cigarette is to soda, as Juul is to energy drink.” This makes a lot of sense because if you Juul (which has 3-5% nicotine; more than a cigarette), after so many uses, you can get addicted.
“Kids’ brains are susceptible to dopamine, making them more susceptible to addiction,” says AGHS Civics Instructor Brian Petermann.
“We are still learning new things about vaping, none of which are reassuring,” says Dr. Skyler Kalady, assistant professor of pediatrics and medical director of complex care at the Cleveland Clinic.
We collected opinions from various students around the Ashland-Greenwood Middle and High School. We asked, “If you know it's wrong, but don't get caught, should you still feel guilty?” Here’s what we heard:
“No, you should only feel guilty if you think you should feel guilty.”
“If you know it's wrong, there should be some level of guilt.”
However, of the various students we interviewed, not a single person said that they vape regularly, leading us to wonder if it’s really an epidemic, or rather something that teens will just try if offered.
Lisa Damour, of The New York Times, writes that “Vaping is generally understood to be less risky than smoking. But not vaping is healthier than vaping.”
So, as a message from your peers at AGHS, whether you’re doing it for the “aesthetics,” because it’s “fun,” or to “get a buzz”...
We ask you to “Please, better yourself.”
[i] Damour, Lisa. “How to Talk with Teenagers About Vaping.” The New York Times, 14 february 2018.
[ii] Rapaport, Lisa. “Vaping, Other Tobacco Products tied to Higher Risk That Teens Will Try Marijuana.” Physician's Weekly, 6 August 2018.
[iii] Higgins, Lori. “Your kids think it’s cool to vape at school. It’s a big problem.” Detroit Free Press, 25 September 2018.