by Alex Sharp

It’s hard to walk through the halls of Frontier without noticing posters warning students not to vape. In the past few years vaping has become a national craze among teenagers. Unfortunately, the physical and psychological consequences of this habit could be severe.

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix small particles in the air. They usually have three main components: a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold a liquid. They come in many shapes and sizes and can look like USB flash drives, pens, or other everyday items.

The liquid contained in e-cigarettes often contains nicotine and other flavorings such as mint, mango, and fruit. E-cigarettes can also be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs.

By far the most popular E-cigarette is the JUUL. Shaped like a USB flash drive, JUULs are easy to conceal and are often used in high school classrooms and bathrooms. According to the JUUL manufacturer, a single JUUL pod has as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that increases blood pressure, harms adolescent brain development and causes severe withdrawal symptoms in a person trying to get off it. Research has suggested that electronic cigarettes are just as addictive as traditional cigarettes and can lead to dependence on other more serious drugs.

Since vaping is a relatively new trend, scientists are still learning about its long term effects on physical health. For example, it is currently unknown whether the chemicals in e-cigarette aerosols have a negative effect on the lungs.

A survey for the American Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that 1 in every 5 high school students (20.8%) reported in 2018 that they used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days—a major increase from 1.5% in 2011.

Students at Frontier have not been immune to the rise in vaping and many find themselves addicted. One male upperclassmen who vapes agreed to an interview on the condition of anonymity. He said he began vaping freshman year and that the majority of his friends also vape.When asked why he vapes the student responded that he enjoys the buzz. “You can’t describe the buzz to a non-vaper. You have to experience it” he said.

A female upperclassmen who vapes also agreed to an interview on the condition of anonymity. This student began vaping when she was 16 and has been doing it on and off ever since.

“I am addicted. I realize that I do it because I have to. I tried to quit twice this past Summer. The first time I lasted like three days and actually got really sick and felt terrible. I went to a party and someone blew a cloud in my face and it was game over. I quit for two months after that. Then I was cleaning out my backpack and I found a pod. I decided I’d use it because I didn’t think I would get addicted again. I told myself I’ll just do it on weekends and not all the time but now here I am.”

This student estimates that 90 percent of her friends have vaped. When asked why she thinks people start vaping she replied “I think they start doing it because of peer pressure and to fit in but are now doing it because they’re addicted.”

As well as negatively affecting health, vaping is an expensive packet. Each of the students interviewed for this article estimate that they spend 15 to 20 dollars on JUUL pods each week.

The best way to avoid a nicotine addiction and the health problems that come with it is to not begin vaping. Students who find themselves addicted to vaping and want to stop are encouraged to reach out to counselors, nurses, health teachers or parents.