Blown Away

Teens remain unaware of the harmful effects of alternative smoking products


Angel Vasquez

Though it is illegal for minors to partake in vaping, students who do so go under the levee along with people who do other forms of smoking such as waxpens. Despite some of them knowing the risks they still decide to use these substances for personal reasons.

Months ago, videos flaunting vaping skills would have made someone a loser on social media. Now, it seems as if every classroom has a couple of vape pens lying around in bags, with some students even showing off their skills when the teacher looks away. With the tables turned, both literally and metaphorically, why has vaping become so popular despite the risks?

He clicked the button, inhaled aerosol, then exhaled vapor after taking a hit from his vape pen and said, “Lung cancer is just a long-term effect.”
Although knowing the risks vaping holds, the senior can’t find a valid reason to make him quit. “It’s always a good decision to quit, but it just helps me deal with the problems of my life.” Like others who use smoking products, he focuses on his current problems without worrying about the future problems he may face.

But vape pens aren’t where it ends for him. He smokes marijuana and uses wax pens, which have also gaining popularity in recent months. While vape pens are usually just played around with, smokers turn to wax pens solely to get high.

Although he insists he won’t “turn to hardcore drugs,” many are stumbling upon different substances after introduced to vape pens.
Vape pens lead to wax pens, which can lead to smoking marijuana, which can then lead to using other dangerous drugs such as cocaine. It all starts somewhere with drug addiction, and in this current age the gateway is the vape pen.

They’re sold in smoke shops, and chances are they’re sold in a class near you. In advance, most sellers post videos all over social media advertising that they have vaping products in stock.
One sophomore knows the ropes of selling vape pens all too well. “I started selling vape pens around five months ago.”

Even if they aren’t meant to be acquired by anyone under 18, he still finds a way to get them in his hands by asking people who are of age to buy them for him. In an average week, he reports selling about three vape pens on Stagg’s campus alone. “People usually just approach me in the hallways and I just pull it out,” he said. Despite how he can be a factor in someone’s addiction, he said he cares for only the profit. “I don’t really care because it’s them who want it in the first place. As long as I get paid, I’ll supply vape pens to anyone.”

For those who don’t buy vape pens from in-person suppliers, they purchase them from the web. A senior who uses this method says the age verification steps are easy to bypass online.

“When you enter the website, it asks if you’re 18 or older but anyone could lie,” she said. “All you need is a credit card and you’re set to buy as many vape pens as you want.” As easy as that, many students who sell just get their pens online.

“Different from most vapers,” as she would say, that same senior decides to use nicotine-free vape pens because they are thought of as harmless and don’t get her high. “When my other friends are getting high, my vape pen makes me feel involved with them without making me feel paranoid because of the risks.”

However, the Center on Addiction reported that out of 40 e-cigarette refill liquids, there was toxicity found in them regardless of the nicotine content. The other chemicals found inside vape pens, such as flavorings and aerosols, are not safe as they can lead to lung cancer, lung disease, and heart disease. With flavoring still present in nicotine-free vape pens, the risks are also present.
When presented with these facts, the nicotine-free user now wants nothing to do with any type of vaping products. “I thought that there was no health risks involved with nicotine-free vape pens,” she said. “I used all of the different flavors, and didn’t even know they made it worse.”

From no nicotine to full of nicotine, a different senior finds the concept of vaping not addicting. “Whenever I have my vape pen in my possession, which is usually daily, I use it,” he said. “I’ve hit my vape at least over a hundred times at Stagg alone, whether that’s in a classroom or at lunch.”

Even if it seems like he is addicted to vaping, he says otherwise. “It’s not an addiction to me, I just want to enjoy the effects it brings to my body.” However, there have been multiple times when he would quit only to return to vaping.