Buzzin’ for Trouble
March 15, 2018
“I think it’s like a trend or a fad like with any generation,” said Tatum Starcevich, a teacher at Waukee High School. Vaping is the process of using liquid with an e-cigarette to imitate smoking tobacco products. An anonymous poll consisting of 41 students found that 49% of Waukee High School students have tried vaping.
Whether it be a Vuse, Juul, Phix, Suorin, or a Smok, Waukee staff and students are very familiar with the student’s use of these products. Campus Monitor David Miller claimed, “There is probably more of it going on then there should be.” Miller continued, “As e-cigarettes become more popular, I think that there are more issues.” Students feel different about the severity of vape-like devices. “I don’t think it’s something people should be freaking out about, but it is [affecting] the kid’s safety,” said senior Jack Baldwin.
The use of e-cigarettes presents new risks. Although there has not been a substantial amount of medical research on the new trend, vapes have been popularized in recent years. Miller argued, “You’re probably gonna look back on it like, ‘Oh my God, that was so dumb,’ when you see the side effects of it.” Studies by the University of Southern California suggest vaping would lead to a few of the same chronic illnesses and cancers that cigarette smoke does.
Brian Murra, Waukee High School Resource Officer, spoke out about what he claims are the dangers of vaping to students. “We know what the long-term effects of cigarette smoke are, but what are the long-term effects of vaping when you don’t have a filter that is filtering out those cancerous carcinogens? We don’t know. We are blindly inhaling these products daily without a care in the world. You’re severely misinformed.”
Typically three students receive written citations for tobacco possession each month according to Murra. “There are way more students vaping then I’m catching without a doubt in my mind.” He predicted.
Approximately a third of the polled student body admitted to actually vaping in school. An anonymous student recalled their experience nearly getting into trouble with a nicotine device on school grounds. The student was in school with their Vibe, an e-cigarette. “I was in class and it fell out of my bag and my teacher handed it to me,” the student stated. The teen claimed they felt embarrassed when the teacher handed the device back. They continued, “I was just like thank God the teacher didn’t say anything…”
Despite this story, there is a handful of students that have not been lucky while trying to catch a “buzz” in school. Junior Nathan Morse reflected, “I was caught vaping in school in December right before Christmas. I was sitting in the locker room and some sophomore brought a backpack which had a dab pen in there, and then [Miller] walked in and got me holding that dab pen in my hand. Then four other people got caught.” Likewise for Senior Cole Overton, but he was caught on a school surveillance camera. “Indeed I have. I got a two-day suspension. I handed my friend a Vuse in the hallway, a teacher saw it, reported it, then they saw it on camera and searched me,” Overton continued, “I got my Vuse handed right back to me, and went home to sit and just miss out on class.” Both agree administration handled the situation properly for the most part, for they were the ones at fault. Morse shared, “It’s reasonable for the people that get caught.”
However, Overton, who is 18 and can legally smoke, questions the school’s policy when it comes to dealing with students who are legally able to obtain these products. Overton believes the rule should apply differently to those of smoking age. He stated, “I think it should just be a thing where like they give you a warning or something the first time [because] it makes sense that it’s against school rules that you can’t do it. Obviously, since there are mostly underage kids doing it.”
Officer Murra explained, “If you’re 18, it doesn’t matter. You still can’t have it at school. You don’t get a ticket from me, but you will still have to leave school.”
Most of the student body is misinformed on this matter, and administration really has no leeway when it comes to giving those that are legal “special treatment.” Starcevich informed, “The thing about schools is that they are no substance zones, so whether you are 18 or not is irrelevant when you are on the school grounds… It’s kind of like the drinking thing, even if you’re 21, you can’t drink on school grounds.”
The staff urged kids to stay away from nicotine. Murra explained the expensive burden that vaping in and out of school can cost students. “These vape products cost anywhere from 60 to 200 bucks just for the vape pen, not even the liquid. We’re looking at high school kids who are lucky to have a part-time job. And then if you get tickets you are adding another 50, 100, or 250 bucks every time you get caught.” Murra advised students to move away from nicotine and avoid hesitation to accept help and support. “Get away from it. Talk to your counselors, there are free counseling services through school. You just have to reach out and accept that help.”