Birth of a Vape Nation

Teenage America's affection with nicotine

Birth of a Vape Nation

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Travis Flippo, Writer

On an average Tuesday, there are anywhere between 10 and 15 kids vaping in the bathroom between classes. This is commonplace practice among upperclassmen and recently has spread to all students at school. Due to the convenient, odorless vapor of nicotine vapes, the school has been all but overrun with students using and abusing their ability to conceal their addiction. 

Vaping incidents at school have increased dramatically in the last 18 months. On average, the school sees one infraction per day.

 “JUUL and NJOY are the most common brands we find at school on a daily basis,” assistant Principal Nate Driver said. “Only once have we caught a kid with a vape watch, and that was just last week.” 

This ‘epidemic’, as it is called, is affecting schools all across the country. Vape use has vastly increased in young adults, in part due to their developing brains being more susceptible to addiction in their age.

Most school officials are left with their hands tied when a kid is caught with a nicotine device. Driver stated that the principals call the kid down to the office and confiscate their device while calling their parents and reporting the incident. Then, punishment is decided based on the kid’s previous infractions, usually ending in a few days of in-school suspension. If a student is apprehended with a THC device, such as a ‘dab pen’ or any other device used for cannabis, School Resource Officer Dunks is called in to detain and punishment is inflicted upon the accused.  

“The most popular place for vaping is the bathroom,” Driver said. “Most kids make their way in there during passing periods. Kids like to be pretty bold as well and vape right in the middle of their classroom.”  

Many students can resort to vaping from peer pressure or other forms of influence from their surroundings. This accessibility has led to the massive increase in use as seen in the last 18 months. The school administration is all but powerless to stop this issue from worsening as kids are found easily sneaking a concealable device to school and using it between classes.

On Sept.1, Governor Greg Abbott passed Senate Bill 21, which raised the purchasing age of tobacco products to 21 all across the state of Texas. This law is intended to subdue the problem and will most likely reduce consumption among teenagers and make it more difficult to find nicotine products. This law however, only prohibits purchase and not possession. The youth that is caught with tobacco is not prosecuted in the school setting, due to no purchase being available. School consequences usually constitute punishment depending on the substance in question as well as the behavioral background of the student.

“Don’t do it,” Driver said. “Students need to understand the ‘why’ when it comes to substances. I advise them to conduct their own research and decide if vaping is worth it.”