Teen vaping— is it an epidemic?
The dangerous trend of vaping has recently spread across the nation. Nearly 21% of high school students vaped in 2018, which is a 10% rise since 2017, according to Journalist’s Resource.
Dominican saw the need to discuss this growing problem with students and took action.
“This presentation was necessary to the health of our students,” said Mrs. Katey Alexander (’91), Dean of Student Services. “It’s all about giving them the information they need.”
On Jan 30, students attended an assembly on the consequences of vaping and e-cigarettes. Presented by Mrs. Bridget Gardner, R.N., Director of the Sudden Impact Program at University Medical Center, the seminar informed students about the consequences of and solutions to nicotine addiction.
“As a Trauma Center leading the path to prevention for the state, UMC recognized the increase use of middle and high school students vaping,” said Mrs. Gardner. “From there, we reached out to the Sudden Impact schools (such as Dominican) to do a needs assessment. Many schools embraced the opportunity.”
The presentation began with the basics: what is a vape? When inhaling a vape, the user is breathing in a heated liquid and releasing it into an aerosol. The hazardous feature is that this liquid contains nicotine from tobacco and dangerous flavoring and chemicals, according the UMC vaping presentation.
But is vaping safer than smoking?
One of the many misconceptions about vaping is that it’s safer than smoking; however, it is even more unsafe, according to Mrs. Gardner. Linked to other types of substance abuse, the ingredients in a vape are addictive and affect a teenager’s brain development. Health risks include blood clots, atherosclerosis, peptic ulcers, enlarged aorta, popcorn lung and many more.
“I saw a need to present the dangers of vaping in the community because teens are making poor decisions due to lack of knowledge,” said Mrs. Gardner. “By the time the teen realizes the consequences of vaping, her health is at risk and she is addicted.”
Since vaping is relatively new, little research has been conducted on effects over a span of years, which poses a high concern for users and makes teenagers even more vulnerable to health risks.
Dominican decided to drive the discussion…
“The importance of this presentation was to bring awareness to the vaping epidemic that has manifested in schools everywhere,” said senior Anne Marie Wherritt. “It was a great reminder to tell teenagers to stop vaping.”
“I learned that it’s very accessible for teenagers to get their hands on a vape,” said sophomore Emily Adams. “That’s why it was so important for Dominican students to learn this information.”
Although the federal law states that purchasing vapes and e-cigarettes is illegal for those under the age of 21, Louisiana has set the age at 18, which makes these substances easily accessible to high school students. Recently, brands such as Juul have been advertising to teenagers.
According to the data Mrs. Gardner shared, teens are gambling with their lives when they inhale this hazardous drug.
“If this presentation helped even one student,” said Mrs. Alexander, “then we’ve done our job.”
- Kathryn Valldejuli