Head in the Clouds

Vape Becomes More Popular, Enforces Consequences in School

Perry Jamail, Reporter

Dry skin and mouth, puffy eyes, bleeding gums and a dry throat. These are all side effects many have experienced from vaping, but for an underage student, these are just some of the problems vaping can bring.

The trend of smoking vapes, commonly known as “vaping,” has been around since the early 2000’s and has now spread into schools across the United States. A popular misconception among the student body are the rules regarding the sale and possession of an electronic cigarette or vape cartridge. Though students may be aware that the sale of a vape to a minor is illegal in the U.S., they often believe the possession of a vape by a minor is legal.

According to Senior Reporting Officer (SRO) David Rodriguez, the state law in Texas is that a possession of an e-cig or vape is illegal for any person under the age of 18. As students continue to vape in and out of school, schools have been prompted to implement stricter rules and harsher punishments regarding vaping.  

“Next year and probably here in the next few months we’re going to really enforce a policy where there is no [tolerance],” Rodriguez said, “Usually we give [students caught vaping] a warning, a second chance, but now it’ll be a no warning policy. So, when you first get in trouble, it’s going to be a citation because it’s getting to the point where we could pull an e-cig off of every person in the school.”

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Although marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, which is true, according to a research conducted by doctor David T. Levy, e-cigs and vapes are in no way healthy. Vaping is not simply a risk-free way to experience the same sensation smoking a cigarette brings. E-cigs and vapes still contain the addictive and harmful chemical nicotine in them, making them harmful to any user.

“A lot of issues we’re coming across is people who are getting their hands on [vapes] thinking that ‘oh they’re not tobacco, they’re not cigarettes, they’re just vape,’” Rodriguez said. “But they have nicotine in them and that’s the biggest thing. The nicotine is what makes it considered an illegal drug to those people who are not 18 years old.”

In addition to the harmful chemical nicotine found inside vapes, vaping has side effects that can affect the throat, lungs, mouth and even the eyes.

Nurse Tara Frost, who has held the position as the school nurse since the 2014 school year, has seen many students with irritated eyes and/or bad cases of uncontrollable coughing she suspects are due to vaping.

“Primarily, there are flavorings inside those nicotine pouches that they get, but then on top of the flavoring, they can have some nicotine [in the vapes],” Frost said. “They don’t burn like cigarettes, it’s more like they’ve got like an electronic pulse that helps them aerate the liquid chemicals and then when you suck that fluid into your lungs, that’s when there becomes problems in the lungs.”  

In addition to the strict state laws that prevent minors from buying or even possessing a vape or e-cig, schools across Texas also have rules set in place to punish students who bring or use a vape on a school campus.  

I don’t think people should do it, but if they’re going to do it, don’t do it in school,”

— Becca Thiemann

“Anytime we get reports of vaping or smoking, we investigate,” Assistant Principal Julie Raby said. “When we do find someone with a vape or that has been vaping, they are given school consequences. Consequences can be three to five days in ISS (in-school suspension). Students can also receive possible consequences from the SRO.”

Christopher Miller, a senior who is legally able to vape and has done it before, said he believes that the trend of vaping is currently very popular among the student body. Miller estimates that around half of the total students at Cedar Park regularly do it while about 80 percent have done it at least a few times before.

“[Vaping] was introduced to me around sophomore year,” Miller said. “It was kind of like the thing to do. It came out of nowhere and it definitely replaced cigarettes from our parents’ generation and even before that.”

Despite the many rules set in place to prevent students from vaping on campus, many students have witnessed their peers vape somewhere in school. Senior Veronica Gutierrez is one such student who has witnessed other students vape in school and believes that it should not be done on campus.

“I’ve seen multiple people vape in classrooms,” Gutierrez said. “And it’s probably not okay to do it in a classroom environment.”

Other students, such as junior Becca Thiemann, believe that the whole trend of vaping is not something she would ever participate in and doesn’t see the reason other students do it during school.

“I think it’s gross,” Thiemann said. “I don’t think people should do it, but if they’re going to do it, don’t do it in school.”