Juul Scuul

Juul+Scuul

River Herron, Staff Reporter

Vaping has become a cultural phenomenon over the past couple of years and has completely taken over the market for tobacco and nicotine. At one point the vaping consumption in teens was down to 11% in 2017, and then skyrocketed a whole 10% the next year in 2018, and then continued its trend of growth and grew 14% the next year in 2019, and is only getting bigger from there. It makes one wonder with all this tobacco and nicotine consumption, what is this stuff doing to one’s body? The scary thing is that we do not know yet! It took the FDA twenty years to figure out that cigarettes cause cancer and are terrible for adolescent brains, how long will it take them this time?

One obvious, yet major issue with vapes is that they are making it even easier for the inevitable underage users to consume nicotine in environments where nicotine should not be consumed. The fruity flavors and “non tobacco” campaigns make the devices seem like an innocent alternative to smoking cigarettes.  Over time the devices began to get stronger and stronger, making it easier and easier to get addicted with just one hit. The company’s found out that shooting enormous amounts of nicotine into the human bloodstream at once is far more effective than the small amounts over time they were used to dishing out in their devices. These one hit wonders were campaigned as a way to quit smoking, and for the user to get their full nicotine craving in just one hit.

What came with these underage, full blown nicotine addicted teens was the absence of a peace of mind, and the complete inability to focus on anything for more than a few moments without thinking about nicotine. Their bodies had been tricked into thinking they needed it, and this led to students (specifically teenagers) bringing their vaping devices into schools, and that is where it all started.

It has been about a year, maybe more, since it became popular for people to start taking their vaping devices into school with them and schools have begun to crack down. With routine drug dog searches, anonymous online programs being promoted to help teens stop vaping, and the obvious higher archy’s disapproval of vapes in general it seems like the Greenville County School system is doing everything in their power to stop underage vaping at all cost, not to mention the US law that states that any person under 21 cannot buy nicotine devices. But even with all of this, it is not enough.

              The regular punishment for getting caught with a vaping device is one day suspension, a slap on the wrist from parents, and a referral. Over time Wade Hampton High School’s administrative assistant Mr. Beaman came up with a solution of his own, something that does not just punish someone for vaping, but actually helps them quit and it teaches teens about the dangers of nicotine consumption not just at a young age, but in general. His solution: a mandatory class held once a month for students who get caught with vaping devices that educated kids on the dangers of vaping. “We have a volunteer come in that has experience with drug abuse and he/she comes in and talks about brain development and how nicotine affects the brain. He also gives advice and educates kids on the strategies they can use to stop.” “It’s more effective than just suspending the student and it helps anyone who needs to take steps towards stopping,” he says. The class has been running successfully for 5 straight months and has helped numerous students completely stop.