Vaping Clouds Students’ Minds: Vaping at Hug

Teen vaping has become such a widespread and almost normal thing for high school students to do during their free time. It has been estimated by the CDC that 1 in 4 high school students have vaped. Even though it is banned from schools and is illegal for minors to use e-cigarettes, high school students are still able to get vapes. So, where have students been able to get their vapes and how did they get introduced to vaping? 

At Hug High school there are several students that vape, most of these students were introduced to vaping through social media or from their friends. “It was always around me in school, so I figured why not try it since my friends are doing it,” said a Hug High School senior who has asked to keep themselves anonymous. This is often the case for many high school students; there has been an increase in students vaping and the environment around them is usually a major factor for the students. The senior has said that they started vaping in the beginning of junior year, and that around that time their friends also started vaping. “It’s like the new wave, if you vape then you’re considered cool,” the senior said. But the popularity that comes with vaping also comes with serious health effects such as nicotine addiction and an increased likelihood of smoking. The senior is very truthful with his connection with vaping and his health saying “I know of the health consequences of vaping, and most my friends do too, but we really just don’t care about it.”

Another reason that students have turned to vaping is that there isn’t as much conclusive evidence of the harmful effects of vaping. “To be honest, I would never try cigs ’cause it’s nasty, you can get addicted faster, and then there’s like certain types of cancers with it.” With vapes being relatively new, only showing their popularity in the early 2000’s, there hasn’t been enough time to find the long-term effects of vaping, whereas, cigarettes and smoking have been around longer, so there is more evidence of the long-term effects of it. And that evidence is more than enough to scare most students to not smoke. For instance, the CDC says that approximately 480,000 smokers will die in the United States per year and that smokers will live 10 years less than non-smokers. Whereas, about 33 people have died from vaping-related issues. This is a factor why most students think that vaping is better than smoking, but it can still cause problems such as nicotine addiction and progressive lung problems.  

Buying vapes has also become easier, since vapes have become so popular in high schools, students can buy some for very cheap. “I don’t usually buy vapes ’cause my friends are usually the ones to offer me hits… but you can usually buy them for 10-15 dollars.” With the ease of buying vapes, its no wonder that vaping rates and popularity have increased each year. Vapes that are sold legally usually cost around 20- 40 dollars, but when students resell them, they do so at a lower price since they aren’t new, and others have probably used them before. 

Although vaping has become more popular towards high school students, there are still many students that wouldn’t try vaping. Such as Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of the student body at Hug High School: “It’s a waste of time and honestly science says that you can get really addicted…which is why I turn down offers to vape, because I don’t want to waste my time and money if I ever get addicted.” he says.

Students often decide whether to try vaping based on the evidence of the health consequences. This is seen in how the high school senior knows about the consequences of vaping but doesn’t care for it because there’s not enough evidence for them to believe in most of the claims about vaping. Meanwhile, Rodriguez who also knows about the consequences and evidence, does care for his health, and doesn’t want to try vaping. 

Bathrooms have also been the go-to place where many students hang out with their friends and vape. “I see people usually vape in the bathrooms,” says Rodriguez. The stereotype of the high school student that vapes in the bathroom is sometimes true, mostly because students usually vape due to their friends and hang out other people that vape since it’s a social thing for the students to do. It’s almost like a club, where people get introduced to the community of other vapers and know which people vape. 

Knowing the facts and consequences that come with vaping is one of the reasons many students don’t vape, but there are also a lot of different factors as to why someone would try vaping, such as the status that it gives them towards their friends. It can also be that the environment around the student can also influence their decision to try vaping. This shows that there is more to preventing students from vaping than just the statistics and facts themselves. In order to change how students view vaping, a change must be taken with the social implications that come with vaping. Once these have changed, then there may be a decrease in teen vaping rates.