Should Schreiber health classes have a unit on the dangers of vaping?

Andy Feinstein, Contributing Writer

In recent years, the number of high schoolers who vape has been steadily rising. The harsh truth is that there have been many discoveries and real life cases demonstrating that vaping can lead to lung disease, and even death. While young people may think that
vaping does no harm, brand new studies have shown the complete opposite: these young vapors are at risk.

During a recent media briefing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised people to avoid e-cigarettes while federal and state officials investigate a nationwide outbreak of severe respiratory illnesses associated with the use of these e-cigarette, or vaping products.

In fact, numerous government officials have reported hundreds of possible cases of pulmonary disease and several deaths that may be related to vaping. Patients’ symptoms ranged from coughing, chest pain and shortness of breath to fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, and a fever. This evidence proves that the dangers of vaping are nonnegotiable. More than 3.6 million middle and high school students currently use e-cigarettes, according to the latest National Youth Tobacco Survey. A 2018 study at Yale found that 11 percent of high school seniors, 8 percent of 10th-graders, and 3.5 percent of eighth-graders vaped with nicotine during a previous one month period. The most concerning part is that a lot of young people think vaping is mostly harmless.

“This problem is changing people’s lives forever, and it must stop. These are innocent, normal kids and their lives could be affected forever by the various dangers that come with vaping,” said sophomore Ben Schiff.

There are many devices which teenagers are using to vape. These devices include vape pens, tanks, electronic nicotine delivery devices (ENDS), e-hookahs, and e-cigarettes. The devices rely on batteries to heat elements made of various materials that aerosolize the
liquid inside.

This liquid that is vaporized in these devices are called e-juice, e-liquid, cartridges, pods, or oil. Most vape liquids contain a combination of propylene glycol or glycerol—also called glycerin—as a base. Then, nicotine, marijuana, or flavoring chemicals are added to produce a variety of enticing smells, flavors, and effects, ranging from mint to “unicorn puke.”

At Schreiber High School, the Health Department curriculum includes a drugs and alcohol unit where each health teacher talks about vaping for a day or two. Because this short period of time dedicated to vaping is within a much larger unit, the message often gets lost in the midst of alcohol and drug prevention lessons. Because of this, many students feel that there should be a separate unit for vaping due to the fact that this addiction has become an epidemic among high school students.

“Anything related to vaping must be spoken about in deep depth in every high school health class. This can change the opinions of many students, because many students do not have much knowledge, and they just think that it is alright and nothing bad can happen to them,” said sophomore Bradley Hamroff.

Vaping is one of the biggest issues in high school today and a health unit dedicated to educating students about it could make a huge difference. In lieu of recent deaths and illnesses, it is extremely necessary.