190428-yh-ul-vapingcounselorsmelissa

West Valley High School interventionist Kayla Davis, left, and counselor Heather Clark advise families and students to understand the true dangers of vaping.

In the past two years, the emergence of vaping among high school students has become shocking and concerning.

“Vaping is becoming an epidemic. It is everywhere,” says West Valley High School counselor Heather Clark. “It happens in West Valley, just like in every other school.”

Vaping or e-cigarette use by high school students nationwide has increased 78 percent in the span of one year, as recorded by the FDA. West Valley High School students have been pulled into this statistic, as some students decide to vape at school.

However, the school’s staff has become adamant on making sure this stops. When a student is caught with the vaping device, administration immediately gets involved and students will be directed toward the high school’s interventionist, Kayla Davis.

The big question of students vaping is “Why?” There are many factors to why teens make the decision to start. Clark explains that it is probably because of the popularity around it, so it leads to many students sharing the vape devices.

However, one of the biggest reasons vaping is popular are the flavors targeted at teens and adolescents. A study done by Truth Initiative concluded that 43 percent of teens nationwide tried vaping because of the appealing flavors. Companies target young adults with the production of various flavors that are associated with names such as Blue Raspberry, Cinnamon Roll and Chocolate Cream. Because of this, Clark suggests that many students aren’t fully aware of what the practice really is and what it is capable of. In fact, Truth Initiative also concluded that 37 percent of young adults who used the popular vape pen Juul did not know the product contained nicotine.

“Just the fact of introducing yourself to a substance that is addictive is extremely dangerous,” Clark says.

Vaping has been seen as the healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. So, what is the difference? The biggest reason vaping is seen as healthier is the lack of tobacco in the ingredients. Davis shares that many students choose to use non-tobacco flavors, and therefore think this is healthier.

“A lot of kids using non-tobacco don’t know that the chemicals to make that liquid are causing harmful effects to the body as well,” she says.

The National Center for Health Research explains that it is not just the tobacco in cigarettes that cause cancer, it is also the many chemicals that are extremely harmful to the body, such as nicotine and formaldehyde. These chemicals are also found in vape ingredients.

Now comes the next question: What can we do to stop this?

Davis suggests that students should know more regarding the effects.

“Parents should talk with their children about the harmful effects, and if they have any questions, answer them,” shes says. “Then, guide them to an interventionist or a counselor.”

Clark believes that educating students over the effects will cause them to rethink what they’re doing, adding: “A lot of times students will share a vape pen and not know the nicotine level or the chemicals in it.”

Davis further notes that some students believe vaping isn’t harmful if it involves a no-nicotine substance. But there are still many harmful chemicals in it that are dangerous.

Clark and Davis want to remind students and parents that they have any questions regarding vaping or want to quit vaping, they can visit their school’s counseling office to talk about the issue. At West Valley High School, Davis’ interventionist office is available to help people take active steps for addiction recovery.

Melissa Mendoza is a junior at West Valley High School.