Behind Closed Stalls

Behind Closed Stalls

Kylie Pavlovsky, Editor in Chief

Vaping among teens in America is on the rise. Every month, 1 in 5 teens are reported to have used e-cigarettes at some point through the weeks. In 2018, a study showed that including middle schoolers, 4.9 million students are avid e-cigarette users. Vaping is an epidemic that has slipped under the radar, masked by genius marketing and growing trends. Our campus is no exception to these numbers. The consistent vape usage has landed students with consequences involving the law and strong opinions from the peers around them. 

“Almost every time I go to the bathroom there is at least 1 person in there vaping,” said senior Aaron Jennings. “My mindset has always been that I don’t care what you are doing as long as you’re not actively doing it in my space so I never really care when I see them in the bathroom. The only time I’ve ever been upset is when I walked into the bathroom and someone blew smoke straight into my face on the way in. I couldn’t escape the smell of artificial blueberry for the whole next period.”

Jennings isn’t the only student to have a negative experience with vaping. Students often mention the strong scent of vapes, whether they’re sweeter or more sour. 

“I think vaping is pretty annoying, I hate the smell and it makes me feel uncomfortable to be in certain places, because I may get in trouble if they get caught while I am around,” said senior Isaac Mokrane. 

Bathrooms seem to be the hotspot, causing lots of traffic in the stalls which can be frustrating when another student needs to use the restroom.

“I don’t like how people do it in the bathrooms or places where other people will be going in and out of, but I can’t stand how they end up just shutting down the entire bathroom because of it,” said Mokrane. “It’s pretty inconvenient when I have to use the bathroom and I have to take a trek around school to find one that’s open.”

Even with shutting down restrooms, students still manage to get their hands on the e-cigarettes, but it isn’t only a hassle for others around them. For vape users, their health is increasingly at risk and so is their future. 

“The vapes that they’re using right now are equal to 7 packs of cigarettes,” said campus officer, Officer Dahlstein. “We’re trying to make them aware of that nicotine use, and the other vapes that they’re finding are THC vapes. Those little bitty vapes are felonies, and they don’t really know that until they’re caught with them.”

From the CDC directly: “5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. That’s about 1 of every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger who are alive today.”

These numbers are intimidating, but not many are aware of them. The issue is not only here, either. 

“I live in Dover, Delaware, and in my school, vaping is pretty bad. It makes me feel worried for this generation of students,” said senior Hope Wilkerson. “They’re so young and yet are doing things that will inevitably have consequences later down the road. We even had dogs come and search the school for drugs which makes me feel like the situation is getting worse.” 

With what feels to be an explosion in vaping, there’s a question that still remains. What can we do to fix it? 

“I’m not sure there’s much that can be done about teens vaping. Rebellion and poor decisions are part of being a teenager,” said Jennings. “I guess the best you can do is try your best to make sure teens have all the information at their disposal so they know how much they’re messing up their lungs and brains but even then you can’t make them fully take it in.” 

Information is important. When caught with a vape on hand, the price is high. 

“If it’s a nicotine vape, it’s called a minor possession of tobacco. You have to be 21 to buy tobacco, so even when anybody out on the streets gets caught with a nicotine vape under the age 21, they can get a minor possession as well,” said Officer Dahlstein. “It’s kind of like a traffic ticket and called a Class C Misdemeanor. You’re going to go to the city jail, talk to the judge, the judge probably has some fines, and then you have to show up with your parents. Then you get consequences at school which are totally different from what we’re charging.” 

There’s many kinds of vapes. Some have fun names such as Watermelon Blast, others not needing flavor to draw young students in. It’s accessible nearly everywhere and continues to invade campuses. There are numerous sources that teach the dangers of vaping such as from the CDC directly or the Healthline

“I don’t hate vaping, in fact, I don’t care for it either way, I just don’t like how prevalent it is on campus and how people seem very irresponsible or lack self control,” said Mokrane.