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Vaping a growing problem
Vaping photo.jpg

Vaping-related illnesses are fast becoming a nationwide health epidemic, with students at Warren County High School among the young adults who have been using e-cigarettes. 

According to a recent article in The Washington Post, state and federal health authorities are focusing on the role of contaminants or counterfeit substances as a likely cause of vaping-related lung illnesses — now up to 354 possible cases in 29 states.

Politico adds that at least 193 potential cases, including one death, have been reported to the federal government this summer.

Many WCHS students are being caught with an e-cigarette on their person on school grounds. It’s illegal for individuals under 18 to possess any form of nicotine-related products. 

Juveniles caught with a vaping device on campus are issued a citation and must go to court. If over 18, the school system will deal with the student since 18 is the legal age to smoke but it’s against school policy to have on the property.

School resource officer Rudy Rudice has been with the school system for five years and at the high school for two.

“We have taken a stand and are working with the court system so when a juvenile is charged with possessing a vape, they will go to court,” said Rudice.

Since the beginning of school Aug. 7, seven charges have been issued for vaping at the high school. Rudice was the first one to charge someone.

A class was held by law enforcement at the beginning of the school year to inform teachers and staff members to know what to look for regarding the possession and use of a vape by a student.

“It’s very bad for the user, but we’re doing a good job controlling the situation thus far,” said Rudice.

Further punishment includes having the student’s vape taken without it being returned, writing a court-ordered, 500-word essay over the dangers of the use of tobacco and paying court costs. If a student has more than one incident of being caught with an e-cigarette on campus, the length of the essay can go up, and that student may also have to complete community service work. 

The majority of the students who get caught are found vaping in the bathroom, Rudice says. To stop this, many spot checks are made throughout the day to decrease the opportunity to use the electronic cigarette. 

The taste and colors of popular vapes can entice younger individuals. Flavors include cotton candy, bubblegum and cherry. Rudice states the use of these products is highly addictive, as well as dangerous. The amount of nicotine in each draw from a vape is more than an entire cigarette.

“A child’s brain doesn’t stop developing until the age of 25,” said Rudice. “Starting a chemical balance with a highly addictive substance in an underdeveloped brain can lead to something worse down the road, including the use of illegal drugs.”

Some vapes are caused dab pens and contain a THC component, the main chemical in marijuana that produces a high. Nicotine can be added to these as well.

“The more information we can give to the public, the better it is,” said Rudice. “We’re trying to protect the use of e-cigarettes in school, but the responsibility still lies in the guardians and parents to regulate what their children are doing.” 

The most popular e-cigarettes being used are Juul and Novo. The Juul is hard to detect since it looks like a thumb-drive and can be charged with a USB port.

The Associated Press states e-cigarette giant Juul Labs is facing mounting scrutiny from state law enforcement officials, with the attorneys general in Illinois and the District of Columbia investigating how the company’s blockbuster vaping device became so popular with underage teens. 

Juul’s top executives have disputed allegations they’ve marketed their products to teens, declaring that they’ve taken unprecedented steps to combat underage use of its e-cigarettes.