One simple ‘NO’ can save peoples’ lives

By Shree Delwadia and Regan Blood

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The simple consent or thought to vape is all it takes for one to join the thousands in today’s society that are part of an epidemic called vaping. Many people can conclude that the rates of vaping, among teens especially, continue to escalate every day. It has become common place to hear about another teenager’s death due to vaping, and if it´s not death, hundreds of people are suffering from illnesses due to vape and its contents. Additional reports show that many students from schools in Forsyth County are at nearby hospitals due to vaping with a concentrated amount of THC. Forsyth county officials are discussing possible solutions such as raising the vaping age to decrease the rate of teens who participate in this harmful act. As of now, scientists discovered only one way thus far to stop these tragedies or consequences from happening: the solution is to say no to vaping entirely.

Vaping’s Background and Effects on the Body

Vaping is when one breathes, inhales and exhales a form of an aerosol. E-cigarettes release aerosol or vapor from devices such as vape pens or Juuls; this device contains batteries and even a heating compartment.

Vaping began as a way for cigarette smokers to ween themselves off of the addiction. As design and innovation advanced, the vaping industry expanded greatly. With the creation of enjoyable flavors and artistic prints on e-liquid bottles, advertisers began to target teens more and more. The company Juul, established in 2015, already has an estimated worth of 16 billion dollars.  Concerns about the vaping industry’s advertising tactics and culpability in the rampant deaths and illnesses of our youth are on the rise; furthermore, more and more class action lawsuits continue to enter the courts in response to this epidemic.

While some adults are benefiting from the use of pods, a type of e-cigarette, teens are fueling a majority of the sales. Even though the legal vaping age is 18, teens get access to vape from older siblings or online stores who do not always ask for proof of age. With just a few clicks of a button, teenagers can purchase cartridges for Juuls that contain more nicotine than most tobacco products. According to Kids Health, due to the high concentration of nicotine in vape, vaping is very addictive for teens.

Moreover, the teen’s brain develops until the age of 25. However, with the use of nicotine, the brain develops slower than usual. When one inhales the aerosol from vape, their brain’s areas of memory, concentration, learning, and self-control greatly change.

Juul is making efforts to try to direct their sales towards the adult age group. However, in reality, many people are concerned that their tactics of colorful and popping ads are only pulling teens closer rather than pushing them away. While the website redirects teens under the age of 21 to a preventative website for smoking, teens can pretend to be 21 and instantly gain access to the site´s products.

As vaping and the use of e-cigarettes become more common among students, the health risks that teens face are evolving to become very serious and possibly life-threatening. The contents of vape cause its user to always crave for more. Teens who ignore those serious cravings can face intense withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, if they continue to vape, they risk experiencing an increase in blood pressure and a change in adrenaline; these can cause a person to become more prone to heart attacks.

According to major studies, vaping causes many deaths and illnesses all around the world. Many health professionals are unsure whether the illnesses and deaths are due to e-cigarettes containing THC, CBD oil, nicotine, or another substance. Health care professionals are sure, however, that all vaping substances lead to effects such as differences in heart rate and blood pressure, coronary artery blockages, higher chances for clotting in blood, dizziness, and so much more.

As of now, society’s teens, as young as 17 years old, are dying from trying these vape pens. When using products that contain highly addictive substances like nicotine, one vape could lead to a lifetime of addiction. The long term effects of vaping are not well-known, and thousands of students and teenagers are facing the consequences that could have been prevented. However, in a teen’s perspective, he or she might have thought that Juuling here and there wouldn’t result in any harmful effects when, in reality, the word safe is nonexistent around vaping.

Students’ Perspective

Students at South Forsyth High took an anonymous survey, containing questions about their thoughts related to vaping. A majority of the students believed in the same idea around some questions. Below is an interactive info-graphic highlighting the results of the survey. Click on each magnifying glass to gain a little more insight into each question.

With all of those risks, abstaining from vaping seems like the best idea. Howevervaping, and there’s a reason for it. Most of the time, no teens, out of the blue, want to participate in illegal activities, especially by themselves. Stress and peer pressure seem to be the two biggest reasons that move teens to become a part of the epidemic.

As young adults, near the end of middle school and onward, the feelings of stress begin to pile up. The stress initiates from homework, projects, tests, quizzes, extracurricular, and grades, causing many teens to stay up late and not get an adequate amount of sleep. This leads to them feeling groggy and tired the next day at school. As a result, the next day, when he or she gets to school and sees one of their friends vaping, they are more likely to try to vape as a way to relieve the built-up tension.

A student at South anonymously mentioned, “Teens choose to vape because it is a method of coping without having to buy cigarettes.”

When they intake the nicotine, the contents react with different neurotransmitters in the brain to produce feelings of pleasure, causing more and more students to continue to vape. This leads to the second reason why some teens are vaping: peer pressure.

During one’s teenage years, the need for approval and acceptance from society is very high; the way teens perceive themselves to be around different social groups cause them to act in a certain way. In fact, a majority of the students who took the survey reported that teens choose to vape because they think it’s cool. If the “popular” kids do it, it can’t be that bad, right?

Peer pressure and stress are not the only two reasons many start vaping; some teens start vaping because of their family members’ influence or as a form of self-harm.

A high school student at South, anonymously, stated, “I chose to vape as a form of self-harm because I have severe depression, but I’m selling my vape because I want to try to be healthy.”

Students may vape because they feel alone, sad, or depressed, and they want to feel pleasure in their lives. Many students need to remember that there are people such as their peers, trusted adults, and staff at school, willing to help them get out of this harmful habit.

Even though most parents do not approve of this, one student stated that “adults aren’t in this age group, and they don’t understand the pressure and the why behind the reason we choose to vape.”

Students take in information differently from different people. Especially around this age, one is more likely to listen to their friends more than others. In fact, their parents´ disapproval of vaping may cause one to want to vape even more. However, it is still equally important that parents and any adults listen to the thoughts of a teen struggling with this epidemic.

Administrations’ Perspective

As teenagers face the downfalls of vaping, the subtle hand of a trusted adult can change the lives of students at South Forsyth High School. The admin at SFHS works constantly to ensure that the physical health of the students who are vaping is improving. We interviewed South’s 9th grade Administrator, Keith Sargent, to see what his thoughts were are about vaping.

“I think one of the biggest things that we’ve done as a team is a drug summit during our parent-teacher conference night where we have police officers and detectives inform parents about the dangers, causes and realities of vaping,” said Mr. Sargent.

The school administration established an effective program that assists students as they make decisions to lead them towards ending their addiction. This drug summit provides students an opportunity to learn about the effects that vaping and e-cigarettes have on the human body.

Shree Delwadia
Awareness all around. SFHS is hoping that the posters around the school increase the communication about the harmful effects of vaping.  Additionally, the school hung posters around the school to show how much vaping affects an individual´s spending habits.

Additionally, the school is very serious about vaping and its consequences. For someone’s first offense, he or she would receive three days of out of school suspension. If someone got caught a second time, he or she would have the opportunity to attend a drug awareness program with a parent to help restrain themselves from vaping.

Mr. Sargent compared teens vaping to going to a fast-food restaurant. When one goes to a fast-food restaurant, they order a meal with thousands of calories, fats, and carbs; however, they still eat it anyway, not caring about the unhealthy additives.

“I think most people don’t necessarily think about the dangers; they just want the immediate reward or comfort feeling they are seeking through that vape. I think it’s just that they don’t want to think about the long term effects of something like a vape, they just want an immediate solution or relief.”

The admin team is doing all that is possible to ensure that the students are safe and healthy. Programs, posters, and statements are some of the ways that the school is spreading the word about vaping and its harmful effects.

As the school works hard for the students’ safety, they hope that students will speak up and bring any concerns about vaping to the admin’s attention.

“I think we just need to get the word out! Everybody needs to be empowered to anonymously let administrators or police officers know through crime stoppers about who they feel like may be vaping, and it’s not so much we want to catch the people who are vaping and suspend them, we just want them to stop vaping entirely,” Mr. Sergeant states.

Many students will make the decision to deny help or ignore the issue as a whole; however, the school admin urges students to encourage one another and speak up to help someone struggling with a vaping addiction.

In the End

Vaping is a serious matter that the SFHS school admin are speaking out against in order to protect and help their students overcome their struggles. In order to end the rising numbers of teens who are suffering from illnesses due to vape, we have to put an end to the rising epidemic. Quitting vaping is a team effort. If you know someone vaping, be the first to help them and speak out.

This story was originally published on The Bird Feed on November 19, 2019.