Schools Can Help Address the Vaping Epidemic
By: Dorothy Bishop, CEO, VapeEducate
Vaping has become increasingly popular with teenagers, spiking to 5.4 million middle and high school users in 2019. This habit has become popularized for many reasons. Vapes are trendy, do not have the stigma that traditional cigarettes do, and are sold in flavors that attract young buyers. Vape use can be subtle and scentless, making it easy for young people to vape without others knowing. They are also incredibly addictive, as they still contain nicotine as traditional cigarettes and are easy to use as they come with nicotine cartridges in various flavors and concentrations. Reports say that 1 out of 4 teenagers has vaped. Although vaping can seem like an attractive alternative to traditional cigarettes, it still has long-lasting and concerning effects on users’ health.
To provide an environment conducive to teaching and learning, schools must take the initiative to educate their students about the dangers of vaping. Teenagers’ brains are still developing, and their desire to take risks regardless of the outcome is at an all-time high in their middle and high school years. Therefore, when an attractive, trendy alternative to cigarette smoking hit the market, it was a no-brainer that young people would want to be the first to try out this “cool” product.
Students primarily want to vape in settings where they are not being supervised by adults but can be observed by peers. This behavior will attempt to boost their social status while avoiding getting in trouble. Although it can be challenging to identify and crack down on vape use since it can be hidden and subtle, educators can teach young people about the adverse effects of vape use. They can create dialogue and complete anti-vaping courses that present information on the seemingly harmless peer pressure that can result in lasting health problems.
Several additional reasons outline why schools should teach young people about vapes’ harmful lasting effects.
- Vape Devices are as Addictive as Cigarettes
Teenagers make assumptions that vaping is less addictive than traditional cigarettes. However, the contrary is true – vaping is as addictive as smoking. One vape cartridge contains approximately the same amount of nicotine as twenty (20) cigarettes. Teenagers may assume that vaping is less harmful than traditional cigarette smoking because it does not produce smelly smoke. The misconceptions that vaping is not addictive or dangerous often lead to continual use and an addictive habit.
- Vaping Negative Health Effects
A habit of vaping can cause one’s health to decline. Vaping can create problems that are not traditionally seen in young people. These health issues can likely cause severe health problems when vaping devices are used. In addition to nicotine, vapes are filled with toxic substances, leading to numerous health issues. Vape use can heighten blood pressure, make a more rapid heart rate, and significantly increase the likelihood that one could have a heart attack. These are not typical health effects for young people to experience, especially when they are used to leading healthy lifestyles. However, when young people use vaping devices recreationally, they can experience all or some of these adverse health effects. The more we teach young people how vaping can decrease their overall health, the more they will think twice before using the device.
- Vaping Can Have Deadly Consequences
One of vaping’s scariest and nerve-wracking characteristics is that they seem harmless. The devices are small and often look like portable computer flash drives. It is easy for the uninformed individual to think these devices are harmless when passed around the school bathrooms, classrooms, or outside of school. After all, they don’t have any REAL smoke coming from them- how bad can they really be? In fact, the use of these devices can have devastating consequences. Since vape use has been on the rise, there has also been a spike in deaths and lung injuries associated with vape use. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that 68 deaths and 2,807 vape-related lung injuries were reported in February 2020. During a time of discovery, excitement, and hope for the future, young people should not have to withstand the lifelong effects that begin as a social habit. Many young people are highly active and at peaks in their athletic careers; however, vape use can harm this success. The effects of vape use can be long-lasting and sometimes fatal, and therefore we must give young people all the knowledge possible to make better decisions when offered the choice to vape.
Vaping is exceptionally subtle and often difficult to identify in schools due to the devices’ lack of smell and small packaging. Therefore, it becomes critical that educators do everything they can to stop it when it is observed. We need to provide our young people with the education and awareness to make informed and wise decisions about vape use. In a time when peer pressure is at its highest, providing a base of knowledge to draw from can be the determining factor in whether students become addicted to vaping. Schools have a captive audience with students and can positively impact students’ decisions not to vape. VapeEducate provides schools worldwide with the necessary resources to provide healthy, productive, and supportive learning environments for their students. VapeEducate can help your school, too.