Vaping: The Modern Epidemic

Ali Gardezi, Staff Writer

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        In 1964, the surgeon general of the United States issued a warning about the potential negative effects of traditional cigarettes. The late 1960s saw a sharp decrease in national cigarette usage, as well as several laws that banned the advertisement of cigarettes on television and radio. By the year 2000, cigarettes were widely-known to cause mouth, lung, and throat cancer. While the era of traditional cigarettes is slowly coming to a close, this generation is experiencing the growth of another form of smoking.

        Several companies have seized the opportunity to promote a “healthier” alternative. E-cigarettes and vaporizers originally were used as tools for quitting traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes have become popular, as they originally contained either water vapor, or non-nicotine synthetics. However, as recently as 2015, companies such as Juul have began to include nicotine in their products in an attempt to attract smokers of all ages. Vaporizers are no longer the healthier alternative that they once were.

        Most importantly, we should look at how e-cigarettes and vaporizers have become a part of many students’ lives here at US. On November 29, both Mr. Bryan and Dr. Daughtrey sent out an email regarding a new addition to the student handbook regarding the usage of e-cigarettes and vaporizers at school. The excerpt reads:

        Due to recent reports regarding the potential for misuse in connection with illegal substances, the use and/or possession of all forms of vaporizers or e-cigarettes is strictly forbidden. The use or possession of such products at school or in school situations will be treated for disciplinary purposes consistent with the school’s policies regarding the possession or use of drugs.

        To follow-up, I sat down with Dr. Daughtrey, Co-Director of the Upper School to discuss his concerns, recommendations, and the recent addition to the student handbook. We began by discussing what motivated the administration to make this addition to the handbook. Dr. Daughtrey responded by speaking about how he had been hearing about this topic anecdotally along with concerns from families and students alike. He cited the recent upsurge in e-cigarette and vaporizer usage this year, which ultimately prompted his concern for student health considering the toxicity and concentration of the inhalants. “The history of e-cigarettes was originally for cessation from cigarettes, however, they are now used for illegal substances, opiates, and synthetic drugs,” he said.Following up, I asked Dr. Daughtrey why there was a need to explicitly write about e-cigarettes and vaporizers—would the administration be unable to take disciplinary actions before this clause was added? Dr. Daughtrey responded by simply stating that the reason for this change in the handbook was to emphasize the seriousness of illegal substances.

        We concluded by discussing the school’s responsibility in putting an end to the usage of e-cigarettes and vaporizers. Simply put, the school “should promote a culture of learning,” he said, “all of the school’s policies spar from respect for yourself. We have a responsibility to upholding a culture of learning, not a place for drugs.”

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