Understanding Why Students Vape and How Schools Can Help

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When vapes were first introduced they came across as a suitable and far less toxic replacement to cigarettes. And if we are being completely honest, that is what they are.

All other things notwithstanding, vapes are usually less harmful than other, particularly combustible forms of ingesting nicotine. And as an added bonus, they smell kind of good.

But now that some time has passed, we are being to see that vapes also come at a greater public health cost— one that is being paid by some people who are too young to fully comprehend the decisions that they are making.

In this article, we take a look at why teens vape, why it is a problem, and what can be done about it.

Is Vaping Ever Ok?

Not vaping will always be better than vaping. However, if the vape is being used as a tool to transition out of cigarette smoking, some experts will allow that it can be a useful stepping stone. A tool that can help people with the very difficult process of cutting tobacco out of their lives.

Here’s the thing: for many people vapes are not a transition but a replacement. They stop smoking cigarettes, but allow the vape to take up an unlimited lease in their lives.

This is bad for anyone, but particularly problematic for teens—many of whom never smoked, to begin with.

For people who use vapes recreationally, there are no benefits. It’s just a bad habit with consequences that can be hard to understand until it is too late.

Why Do Teens Vape?

Besides the general rule that teenagers seem biologically required to at least experiment with things that lead to self-destruction, of course.

The real reasons are a little bit more complicated, though you could chalk them up to marketing. Here are a few of the reasons why teens all across the country have allowed vapes to become a part of their life.

  • It’s perceived as safe: As mentioned above, people view vaping as a safe alternative to cigarettes. When a teenager learns that vaping is better for them than smoking, they are more comfortable experimenting with it— often not knowing that nicotine addiction comes with its own set of risks.
  • It’s convenient: Vapes are discreet. They can be used almost anywhere. Anyone who has ever tried to discreetly smoke a cigarette as a teenager knows full well how involved the process can be. Do it indoors, and you’re basically asking to get caught. Do it outdoors and you still have to shower off and change your clothes, or risk severe parental scrutiny. Vaping isn’t nearly as hard to conceal. Plus, most vapes fit in your pocket and can be charged on the same ports used for smartphones.
  • It’s fun: Well, it is. At least in the beginning. The flavors taste good, and the nicotine provides a feint but craveable buzz that people all over the world enjoy enough to risk their lives to get it. For a teenager, that’s a good deal. Easy, “safe,” fun that their parents never have to find out about.

Unfortunately, there is a very dark b-side that most people don’t find out about until it is too late.

The Dark Side of Vaping

So why should parents and teachers be concerned about high school students vaping? There are a few reasons why this habit is not suitable for school-aged children.

  • It’s addictive: While vapes eliminate some of the carcinogens associated with smoking, they maintain the addictive element. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, which means that once a teenager starts using it, they may have a very hard time stopping.
  • It can jeopardize their concentration: Many people have the impression that nicotine can help with concentration. As a stimulant, it does sometimes produce that effect. However, in the thralls of nicotine addiction, a teenager’s brain may actually have the opposite experience. Brain fog is a common symptom of nicotine withdrawal— one that can make it hard for teenagers to concentrate in school.
  • Stress, anxiety, and other mental health struggles: Addiction can also produce an extreme stress response that results in anxiety and other mental health issues that are difficult for anyone to overcome.

Naturally, these are not symptoms that parents or educators want high school students to experience. But in a world where vapes are readily available at almost every gas station, is there anything that can be done?

What Schools Can Do

Educators know full well that it is never easy to keep high school students from making bad choices all the time. However, there are things that can at least help point them in the right direction.

The first thing schools can do is to provide information. Many people reach for vapes because they think they are a risk-free alternative to smoking. By helping high school students understand the risks of vaping, schools may prevent some people from taking the habit up in the first place.

It’s also important that schools be there to support students who are experiencing the negative effects of vaping. Guidance counselors and school healthcare professionals can help provide struggling students with the tools they need to come out the other side of vaping addiction.

About Sensory Edge 527 Articles
At SensoryEdge our focus is to educate, inform, and inspire each person caring for children to be and do their very best. It is not always easy and sometimes we don't take action (or we take the wrong action) because of a lack of understanding the real issues. We hope that the conversations that occur here will help in some small way better the lives of children, their families, and the professionals who work with them. We are always looking for valuable contributions to our site so if you are interested in becoming a contributor contact us.