Vaping becomes an epidemic within high schools

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Vaping becomes an epidemic within high schools

Matthew Farley, Staff Writer

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As the rise of electronic cigarettes  becomes more common in our society, it’s also become more prevalent in high schools across the United States, including Biddeford High School.

According to a survey conducted by Monitoring the Future, an organization that studies trends in American youth, more than a third of high school seniors in America reportedly vaped at least once in 2018.

So what are e-cigs, most importantly the most popular e-cig, the Juul.

“A Juul is a little device that looks like a USB drive. It has disposable pods with nicotine e-liquid inside of them,” said a student who asked to remain anonymous. “You put the pod inside of the device and inhale the liquid. It gives you a head high and makes you feel dizzy due to the high nicotine concentration in the pod.”

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical. High schools across the country are seeing more widespread use of vaping products, especially the Juul, which is wildly popular among teens.

“One of the biggest concerns we have about students vaping is the unknown health effects that come with using the product. There’s just so much we don’t know about the long term effects and it’s incredibly scary,” administrator Tracy Gibson said.

Teachers and administrators are cracking down on the issue every day. They are trying to make an effort to get parents to understand the risks, and most importantly what this product is.

“We are looking at trying to educate our staff and community as a whole, but all we can do now is try to prevent it from happening,” Gibson said. “For example, you’ll see Officer Pelletier and I roaming the halls a lot. We try and check the bathrooms at least once every block.”

Getting caught vaping at Biddeford High is a serious offense. According to the discipline rubric in the student handbook on page 12, e-cigs and possession has a minimum of one day in-school suspension and up to five days outside of school suspension at the maximum offense.

According to school resource officer, Officer Pelletier, further measures are being taken to prevent these devices being in schools in the future.

“Pretty soon, new legislation will be going into effect that defines any e-cigarette [including Juul] will be illegal in schools and among juveniles,” Pelletier said.  “Just having the electronic device that is able to deliver chemicals to the body, which means not even having the pod inside of the device, is going to be illegal among juveniles.”

The surge of teen vaping is a big issue that will only get worse if nothing is done about it. Administrators are always working to curb the issue. With this new legislation, administrators are hopeful it could help cut the boost of teen vaping and plan to educate families and staff about the dangers of these products.

“Legislation will be enacted in the near future,” Gibson said.

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