The practice is banned on school campuses, illegal for minors, and considered a health risk by many, yet one in four students statistically use electronic cigarettes regularly.
Most people interviewed believed these devices to be generally healthier than traditional tobacco cigarettes, but still a substantial danger; others held the two in equal regard, or based their opinion on the specific liquids being inhaled.
“Vaping was meant to be an alternative to smoking, but actually turned out to be worse in some ways,” sophomore Carsten Brennan said. “I think this caused it to become more popular amongst the younger generation.”
Young people make up most ‘vapers’ today, and it is most certainly reflected in the testimonials received. Both at Dripping Springs High School and among the general public, those who oppose vaping now find its popularity soaring despite federal regulations.
“While vaping is certainly a ‘thing’ (it’s not hard to find someone who vapes), it’s a very small population of the kids who vape on a regular basis- although there may be statistics out there stating otherwise,” sophomore Christian Pundt said.
Laws against the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors are already in place, but the defiance and often open use of them by this demographic illustrates the feeling of many on the role governments should play in the personal decisions of their people.
“The government shouldn’t tell us what to do with our bodies,” sophomore Mason Mohon said, “By this principle, there shouldn’t be restrictive laws for [traditional] cigarettes either.”
As with any views held upon a group of people, variations of opinion were quite sharp when it came to what interviewees thought of fellow students who vape. Contempt was often felt toward what is seen as a stupid decision, but also present was a respect for personal choice.
“It’s completely ludicrous that a culture so bad for you and with only social benefit – still only held by a small portion of people – has become so popular across a generation,” sophomore Nicholas Pannes said.
Finally, solving this problem within our own campus was addressed; past experiences and personal connections had greater bearing in their answers here. Memories of crowded, vapor filled bathrooms and oppressive odors emerged to sway most in the direction of taking greater measures against underage use of E-cigarettes.
“We definitely need to crack down on vaping more than we currently are,” sophomore Scott Boyer said. “Rules should be put in place against the use of ‘vapes’ by people under age 18.”
This insight into the range of what common young people think about the practice creates a mostly negative picture, but also shows depth in the issue. Despite differences in core beliefs, a common view on vaping exists between most students and school staff members, a relationship vital to future solutions.
Written by Willie Johnson