By Lucas Bell
We are all familiar with walking into the bathroom and being greeted with the faint aroma of French vanilla, bubble gum, or even a field of strawberries. At first one might think the administration has decided to furnish the restrooms with Yankee Candles to enhance the experience. Unfortunately, this is not the case. What we are dealing with is vaping.
“I vape because it is a way to get nicotine that’s definitely safer than smoking,” The Squall’s anonymous vape insider said.
The popularity of vaping has grown immensely nationwide over the last few years. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in April of 2015 that numbers of students vaping or using e-cigarettes more than doubled in a single year, rising from approximately 660,000 to 2 million students from 2013 to 2014.
At DHS, students have noticed a similar trend. “I have definitely noticed an increase of people vaping at the school, especially in the bathrooms since I was a freshman,” senior Alex Schwartz said.
Vaping is, by definition, to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device. If someone says they vape, they aren’t likely referring to an e-cigarette. That trend at DHS has been replaced by what people today would call vaping. A vape box and flavored e-juice are used to produce copious amounts of vapor, known to many as clouds (usually followed directly by the word “Bro”).
These vape boxes, or mods as they are known in the vaping community, range in price from about $50-$150. E-juice comes in many forms, with a nicotine range of 0mg to 24mg or higher. There are literally hundreds of flavors of e-juice, ranging from normalish strawberry to completely and utterly wild flavors like Sunday morning breakfast.
These flavors are exactly what you smell when you walk into any school bathroom. It is common practice for people who vape to assemble in the lavatory during class or passing time where they then start making clouds [bro].
This practice is an adaption of those used by the much smaller number of students who used disposable e-cigarettes three to four years ago. Many people in that group got overzealous, using their tobacco replacement products in hallways, the commons, or even in the back of Mrs. Tracy’s biology class. Today, the restroom or parking lot exclusive usage helps keep these students out of the eyes of administration.
“I’ve never seen a kid with one of those,” said DHS staff member Tim Wise. “I would look at that and think that it’s a cell phone.”
But just because they can’t see it, doesn’t mean they don’t know it is happening. The school has been aware of vaping for a while. Despite this, there is still no policy in place at the school involving a vape.
“The way we still look at it in school, unless life changes and I don’t know if it will, but right now I know you can buy the liquid without nicotine,” DHS principal Kit Moran said. “But, you can get it with all grades of nicotine. So from a school policy perspective, we say that they all could [contain nicotine] and we can’t tell the difference. So we treat it as such.”
Everyone withing the DHS administration seems on board with how to deal with vapers.
“How am I, as someone who is supposed to enforce the school policies, going to look at someone who is [vaping] and know if they are using nicotine or not?” Wise said. “There would have to be something that changes color or something. But for now I would just treat it as a tobacco product.”
The fact of the matter is simple: if you are under 18, you can’t technically own a vape. The school has yet to suspend anyone for vaping alone, but the administration said that if the use of vapes becomes a problem at DHS, more actions may have to be taken.
“Am I surprised? I’m not totally surprised,” Moran said, “If my son were doing it, I wouldn’t approve of that.”
“My question to a kid would be ‘why are you doing this? Are you doing this because you think it relaxes you? Well, okay, is it to experiment? Is it to fit in? Why is it that you want to do this thing? Are you doing it because there is nicotine in it and you are looking for that buzz?’”
Whatever their reasons may be, students at DHS are vaping in much higher numbers than before. Vape culture is not going away any time soon, and the forecast is still looking awfully cloudy, bro.