Today’s teens who vape contribute to future generations of youth addicted to nicotine. (Photo illustration by Junanna Chen)
Fountain Valley High School

Opinion: Stop teens from vaping their youth away

A fruity aroma might trick you into thinking that there’s an air freshener in the restroom, but it may come from a dangerous device. It’s a nicotine delivery system, both sedative and stimulant, sleek and hidden, and a gateway to a world of addiction, pain and disease.

Vaping is prevalent on our campus and it’s ruining our generation.

The Center for Disease Control found that tobacco use among American high schoolers increased 38.3% between 2017 and 2018 and that 4.9 million youth used tobacco products in 2018.

Brian King, deputy director of the CDC’s Office and Health, told NBC News that American teenage cigarette usage has declined since 1998, but data from the past three years show that there has been no change in cigarette smoking.

E-cigarettes are the primary reason why more and more teens are hooked on nicotine. When one person has access to e-cigarettes, it’s only a matter of time before their friends are exposed to vaping.

Social media popularizes vaping by spreading videos of smoke tricks. Distribution of e-cigarettes is easy; restrooms are hotspots and student-run Instagram boutiques sell flavored juices.

What’s worse is that youth who vape don’t perceive the risks as dangerous and aren’t aware that their actions can harm others. Vapes that claim to be nicotine-free have harmful effects on both vape users and those around them.

For example, people inhaling secondhand vapors are taking in aerosols that contain nicotine and cancer-causing toxins, according to No Smoke. Chemicals in vape juices can also cause damage to reproductive health and put children at risk for developing asthma.

It’s apparent that vaping is destroying the integrity of our society. The youth of America are buried in toxic chemicals and nicotine, and this needs to stop.

Those who don’t vape or smoke still can’t escape the constant barrage of secondhand smoke. As a community, we must innovate solutions, laws and methods to detect those who ignore the law and put both themselves and those around them at risk.

Schools play a huge role in taking action against vaping and catalyzing the spread of awareness among the youth. Many schools are installing vape detectors in restrooms and are implementing programs that drive home the dangers of vaping. Fountain Valley High School in California also needs to bring these vape detectors and educational measures to our campus.

Educational sessions with students, parents and staff are a great way to inform and unite everyone. Educating the community about the health and social problems caused by vaping, how to spot it, and more may not put an end to vaping, but they’re big steps to prevention.

It’s also a good idea to invite guest speakers, including teens, to have activities that model problems and incorporate this into our curriculum each year with youth-friendly plans during a 2A/2B schedule.

Another way to slow this virus is by making sure that all staff and students are on the lookout for those who are vaping. If any teenager is vaping, then they are breaking the law and it is up to the integrity of the staff and students to report the perpetrator.

When you see someone vaping on campus, you might hesitate to say anything. However, the ethically right choice is to report the vape user. This way, you can stop them from vaping at that moment and they’ll have to face consequences that may limit them from vaping.

Hopefully, this gives them a chance to quit, but regardless, it will at least stop them from affecting the health of nearby staff and students.

If a Fountain Valley student witnesses someone vaping on campus, they can let a teacher know or text FVHS’s confidential hotline at (714) 462-4796. This number is on the back of all student ID cards.

These are just a few ways that our vaping epidemic can be stopped, but none of them are definitive. Our schools, politicians, friends and family have been fighting this for many years now and there have not been any effective solutions. This is because this is an illness that we have never seen before; this isn’t something we can solve with an inoculation or a visit to the doctor.

The vaping epidemic is something that can only effectively be stopped by those who are causing it. All youth who vape must make the decision to continue to outrage and hurt the public, their friends and family or concede their e-cigarettes for the better of society.

 

by Baron Banner Editorial Board