Nicotine is making a comeback. Cigarettes were popular in high schools across America throughout the 80's and 90's, but as soon as more scientific evidence came out regarding the harmful effects of tobacco, the trend ceased. Since then, nearly two decades later, nicotine is making a comeback in schools across the nation. It's hiding in backpacks, pockets, coat sleeves and cars. The tiny e-cigarettes are causing middle and high schoolers to beg for a buzz during the school day, occasionally hiding in bathroom stalls to take a "hit" and sneaking around between classes.
These tobacco contraptions are evidently detrimental to a youths development. A study done by Science News For Students, found that in 2017 nearly one in four high schoolers and one in fourteen middle schoolers across the nation are using a form of electronic cigarettes. That is an unsettling rise from 2011-2015 when only 16% of highschoolers admitted they used vape products.
E-cigarettes have not been around long enough to properly study the long term effects from their usage, but The Washington Post states that scientists have so far been able to conclude that the vapors in e-cigarettes can cause harm to the lungs, brain, heart, immune system and the reproductive system in males when used in adolescence. While vaping still may be debatably more healthy for you than smoking cigarettes, statistics by Science News For Students have shown that a teen that vapes is three times more likely to begin using cigarettes, than a teenager who didn't, which contradicts the initial purpose of E-cigarettes.
With these tobacco products are on the rise in schools across the nation, including Clarkston itself in recent years, Mr. Lamay, Assistant Principal at Clarkston High School, was interviewed about his opinion on the outbreak of vaping products. After reviewing several statistics, such as the ones stated above, on the increasing usage of nicotine products in schools, Mr. Lamay stated, "I find it sad that any kid would chose to do these things, but as an administrator I would love to try my best to help them in anyway I can, and to make a positive impact on these teenagers lives".
While conversing with Mr. McCall, the Clarkston High School Social Worker, on the topic of tobacco products, he expressed both his concern, and his empathy for them being used by teenagers. McCall believes that there is one reason students are risking suspension to vape in school, "I believe it's because they're addicted. They're teenagers, they start by experimenting and just having fun, but the experimentation leads into an addiction".
McCall revealed that he finds himself in a hard place, whenever he does have to confront the situation of a teenager vaping in school, "There has to be consequences... but establishing a consequence is a hard thing to do. I hate to suspend an eighteen year old kid for having a vape in school, because he is making poor health decisions, but I can't suspend him for making other negative health choices, such as eating four pieces of pizza."
The sad truth is that no matter the circumstance, whether its peer pressure, being rebellious, or just wanting to feel cool, e-cigarettes are on the rise for teenagers across America. We can only hope that teenagers will try to steer clear of tobacco products, and make smart decisions so they will not have regret in the future.