By: Viola Hsia
Occasionally, student bathrooms will smell strongly of candy or cologne. But the cause of this is not perfume. It’s vape smoke.
Vape pens are smoking devices similar to e-cigarettes that turn liquid from cartridges into aerosol form, which is then inhaled. Many students have been found vaping in the school bathrooms. The Clinton administration is attempting to prevent this and stop students from vaping.
“It’s not a new problem, it’s a different version of the same problem, similar to when I was in high school and kids were smoking cigarettes,” said Ms. Cheryl Goett, vice principal of Clinton and upper grades director.
Though vape devices do not contain tobacco, which is one of the leading ingredients in cigarettes that causes cancer, many contain nicotine, and vaping has been proven to harm people’s health. “I think it affects the part of the brain that helps you focus,” ninth grader Arianna Rava said. Medical research has proven that vaping can affect a person’s heart rate, blood pressure, and can cause premature wrinkles. People can also develop “smokers cough” from vaping: a constant cough that doesn’t go away. “Vaping and vape devices haven’t been around as long, so that research can’t be there yet,” Ms. Goett explained.
As for seeing some of their fellow students vape, some students believe that they can’t do anything about their peers’ habits. Instead, they simply believe those students will face health consequences later due to those habits. “The damage will eventually come to them,” remarked tenth grader Neal Chakraborty.
Because of the limited research, most students, teachers and parents still don’t know how to tackle this issue. Rava suggested that efforts should be made to spread awareness about the harmful aspects of vaping.
“I’m not going to fix it, you’re not going to fix it, I don’t think individual students are going to fix it,” Ms. Goett stated. “I do think good solutions can come from groups of people thinking through and working together. Ultimately, vaping is not happening in the staff’s bathroom, it’s happening in the student bathroom. So I think there’s a lot of power in having that group of students say, ‘Hey, you’re going to make your own choices, but this is not a place where it’s acceptable.’ I think that we’re here to support students with making healthy choices, and we’re willing to do work [on promoting vape-related] education.” Goett continued, “But then I think also, that as a group, you guys have more power than you realize in addressing this issue as well.”