Vape Life

What you need to know about e-cigs in student life

By Mitchell sterlitz

“I vape whenever I feel like it, because it’s fun to do. I do it both socially and alone, it doesn’t really matter to me, but I prefer doing it when I’m with other people. Sometimes, depending on my mood, I’ll use some juice with higher nicotine content to give me a little buzz.”

These are the words from a junior who provided an insight into the Dexter High School subculture of vaping.

The use of e-cigarettes, commonly known as vaping, is a trend that has become part of the culture at DHS. 

“I vape one or two times a day,” another student said. “I find time at the beginning of class by just asking the teacher if I can go to the bathroom. I meet up with another kid and we vape together just because we can. I vape mainly because it feels good, but there are some negative aftereffects. I get lightheaded for a few minutes afterwards and I just feel out of it. I don’t want to do anything.”

However, just because it is a part of the school’s culture does not mean that it is legal on school grounds. In fact, e-cigarettes are categorized as tobacco delivery devices in the school handbook, and students caught with them are reprimanded under this policy, regardless of whether the liquid has tobacco or nicotine content in it.

The punishment for the possession or use of any form of e-cigarette is enforced with a three day out-of-school suspension, according to Principal Kit Moran. This is the same punishment for possessing dip, cigarettes, or any other objects with tobacco content.

“We don’t go looking for problems, they just show up,” Moran said when asked about how the school detects and confiscates tobacco delivery devices.

If a student is subjected to a backpack search and a vape device is found, the student in question receives a punishment dictated by the rule book for their actions, Moran said.

Some may argue the method used by the administrators is unfair, because they don’t require a warrant or probable cause. This is not to be confused with how the police handle search and seizure of illegal paraphernalia; while the police require either consent or a warrant for the search, Moran noted all that administrators require is a heads up from a teacher or multiple student sources. 

“We really don’t like to go through students’ backpacks,” Moran said. “It’s a very personal thing and we don’t really want to go near it. We usually have the student go through every pocket and we watch while they do.”

Before the search, the administrators ask if there’s anything they’re going to find that shouldn’t be there.

Usually, the student will confess and throw it away, if it’s something minor. But with big-ticket items like weapons or serious drugs, the student will be punished accordingly.

One aspect of vaping that is not mentioned in the rules, however, is that vaping without tobacco content in the juice is a much better alternative to using actual cigarettes according to a study conducted by Boston College. It might be fair to assume the punishment for a healthier alternative to smoking would be smaller. According to Moran, the school doesn’t address this matter and hasn’t made moves to update the policy in any way.

This isn’t to say that vaping has no negative effects to the health of the user, but it is definitely not as bad as putting tar, carcinogens, and other toxins in one’s lungs according to Cancer Research UK, an organization formed to reduce the number of cancer related deaths every year.  This shift from cigarettes in the 1990s to vaping today is  a cultural evolution, and is a step in the right direction of consumer health in America.

The Squall is keeping students used in this article anonymous.