For decades, schools have had trouble with kids smoking in the bathroom. Despite health warnings about the dangers of tobacco smoking, many teens have taken up the habit nonetheless. With the advent of smoke detectors, faculty at high schools have been able to muster up some control. Yet, vaping devices have changed all of this. In Chicago, Illinois, students at some suburban high schools are taking up vaping tobacco in larger numbers than is comfortable. According to the Chicago Tribune
, 30 students were found with vaping devices at Hinsdale Central High School in January alone compared to only a handful in previous years. “There’s a glory to this,” says the principal, “I don’t think students understand what the long-term effect is.”
The Hazards of an Easier Smoking Experience
With new vaping devices being invented all the time, hiding their use has gotten easier and easier. For starters, the tobacco smell is disguised by the fact that the tobacco is flavored. On top of their ability to disguise the bad smell with flavors like chocolate and creme brulee, that old, off-putting tobacco taste is also a thing of the past. Thus teenagers who would have been deterred by the unpleasant taste and coughing fits that so often greet first time smokers are faced with no such resistance. The vaping pen makes the process of ingesting nicotine easy, smooth and tasty. This makes it easier for more teens to engage in the habit and harder for them to truly understand the harmful effects of nicotine.
Inconspicuousness of Vaping Devices a Double Edged Sword
Vaping devices are being designed in such a way that they can be hidden in plain sight. They come in a variety of sizes and many look like USB sticks or highlighter markers, making them easy to hide in front of both teachers and parents. Parents will need to start educating themselves on what they look like, how they work and even popular brand names if there's a chance to get ahead of it.
Further Risks of Teen Vaping
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a comprehensive report that evaluated the use of vaping. Scientists found that teens who smoke tobacco with vaping devices are more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes. This works to combat all the anti-smoking efforts many have taken to educate teens about the dangers of smoking tobacco. In Illinois, people need to be 17 or older to purchase and smoke cigarettes. However, there are cities across the state that have raised the legal age to 21. Now, lawmakers are also considering raising the legal age to 21 across the state. Vaping companies have responded, saying that they offer adult smokers a healthier option to smoking cigarettes and they don't want to stop producing these products. It seems up to schools and parents to educate teens about the dangers of ingesting nicotine. Schools have also expressed interest in putting vaping detectors in bathrooms in the hopes of keeping the issue under control for now. Awareness is the most important place to start, it would seem, in finding solutions for the future.