Students question the use of Vapes in school

By Lexie Decker — The newest trend in school is not Uggs, Call of Duty, or the iPhone 5s. It is blowing out water vapor, while the teacher’s back is turned.

Vapes have become popular among teens and the public. Vapes are an alternative to smoking cigarettes because the user is puffing out water vapor instead of cigarette smoke. Vapes eliminate second hand smoke since those using them are only puffing out water vapor.

Students have been bringing Vapes to school and smoking them in school, causing administrators to punish them. Students have cited these punishments as unfair because Vapes are not directly banned in the student handbook. However, principal Tamiko Hatcher and the district still view them as drug paraphernalia.

“We are unable to identify what’s in the Vapes, and that’s the problem,” Hatcher said.

Hatcher said punishments vary depending on the offense.

Buyers are able to choose whether they want nicotine or not in their Vapes, which is why the school is viewing all Vapes as tobacco products, even if there is not nicotine in it.

Hatcher said in order for the district to determine if there is nicotine in a Vape they would have to send it to the lab. He also said Vapors do not help improve academics so they should not be allowed in school.

“I see no way of this product enhancing the learning process. This isn’t a growing problem, just a new one we will need to address,” Hatcher said.

While administrators can argue Vapes do not enhance the learning process, students say there is no harm being done. Senior Edgar Melendez is one of these students.

“They don’t contain nicotine or anything unless you ask, so it’s not hurting anyone,” Melendez said relating back to school being unable to identify what is in the Vapes.

“I don’t think we should be able to smoke them in class because that would be a distraction, but in the hallway or lunch it should be allowed,” Melendez said.

Punishments vary depending on the case. Senior Alex Garcia was suspended three days for having his Vape in the bathroom.

“Someone else was smoking it and was suspended too for the same amount of days, but I got in trouble because it was mine,” Garcia said.

Garcia has decided to stop smoking his Vape in school, even though he feels like it should be allowed. He said he does not want to get in trouble again.

School officials are not the only ones putting Vapes in the same category as cigarettes.

The state of Ohio has recently proposed legislation banning the sale of e-cigarettes (Vapes) to anyone under the age of 18. The sale of e-cigarettes has grown rapidly, estimated at $1.7 billion, nationally in 2013. Susan Liss, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said statistics show one in five middle-school students have tried them.

State officials want to stop the sale of e-cigarettes to young people because they believe it is encouraging them to start smoking.

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]