Vaping: The Modern Teen Epidemic at Claremont High School

Tobacco has been around and highly popular for centuries. However, as more and more research has pointed to their highly detrimental health consequences, a new wave began: vaping. Vaping is defined as inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device. This method was recently proposed as a way to wean existing smokers off of cigarettes. Deemed “healthier,” vaping has been steadily growing in popularity as a pastime around the world. With the enactment of this new “solution,” another problem arose. In addition to being heavily used by existing smokers, vaping has become a largely popular but illegal activity amongst teenagers and high school students. The FDA even calls vaping an epedimic among teens today. The main issue of concern around this occurrence is that many of these teens have no prior experience with smoking.
As a result of this, vaping does not only aid existing smokers but rather creates new ones. Researchers from the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth College estimate that 168,000 people ages 12 to 29 who had never smoked before would start smoking cigarettes or continue on with e-cigarettes and become daily users between the ages of 35 and 39. These predictions paint a picture of heightened nicotine dependency among today’s teens. This sharp increase in vaping is documented all across the country, and Claremont is no exception.
Teen and student vaping is an increasingly regular occurrence on campus, and it seems that the administration at CHS has noticed this trend as well. This school year, a significant increase in campus security has been introduced. Mandadted by California law in 2016, signs hang above every bathroom door, prohibiting any smoking, vaping, or use of illegal substances. Several new proctors have become a constant fixture on campus, tasked with the prevention of student vaping. At any given time throughout the school day, these proctors can be seen roaming around various quads on bikes, or on foot. A large part of their security measures include routinely inspecting bathrooms in order to catch any students who might be smoking e-cigarettes in the stalls during passing period, and classtime.
The increased security is justified in order to combat the spread of student vaping on campus. CHS proctor Maureen Safely can attest to this.
“Encountering students vaping in the bathrooms is a daily thing,” Safely said. “It’s been like this ever since school started.”
Students have taken quickly to this of e-cigarette usage. Whether they are new smokers or old, the booming expansion of vaping popularity is undeniable. Teens take to the campus bathrooms to smoke or vape in private on a daily basis, and campus security around CHS has inevitably risen to the challenge by enforcing severe consequences to offenders.
“Caught offenders are usually faced with a five day suspension, but punishments vary,” Safely said.
The current penalties of student e-cigarette usage emphasize the importance that CHS administration places on this pressing issue. That much is clear as increased campus security enforces a strict, zero-tolerance policy towards vaping in order to prevent the growth of this harmful teenage trend. This school year, the rise of vaping amongst teens and the rise of school sanctioned crackdowns on e-cigarettes are clashing and will likely continue to happen in the future.
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