Half of MHS students think vaping is harmful, research may surprise them

STAFF WRITER Amy Gilette, Staff Writer

Over 83 percent of students at MHS surveyed either know somebody who uses vapes or who vape themselves, but only 50 percent find it to be dangerous. Vaping is heating up a flavored packet in water, and smoking that water vapor which contains nicotine.

Thirty-four percent of surveyed students from MHS said that they thought vaping was a problem among high school students but only 21 percent said it was a problem with the MHS student body.   

In recent years, vaping has become a popular trend among high school students. In 2014, the percent of high school students using vapes grew to 15 percent, up from three percent in 2011 according to Science News.  

It originated in the form of electronic cigarettes. Chinese pharmacist Han Lik invented the “E-Cig” as a way to get people to stop smoking traditional tobacco.

According to the Huffington Post, many teens today use vape pens but not as an alternative way to quit smoking. A large portion find it “cool and harmless” due to its popularity on social media sites such as Instagram and Vine. Even celebrities like Katy Perry and Johnny Depp  have been shown using vapes in public.

An MHS student who vapes began the habit because a friend had a vaping apparatus, and did not have access to other drugs like tobacco and marijuana.

“I don’t even do it that often, probably once a week. I just like the physical sensation of smoking, not the nicotine or chemicals,” the student said.

Just like traditional cigarettes, vapes and e-cigarettes are legal at the age of 18, but are a lot more expensive to acquire.

“On average a vape costs around $150, and then you need to spend money on replacing its parts and flavor solutions,” said the student.

Half of students surveyed at MHS said that they think using vapes is dangerous but an overwhelming majority think that traditional tobacco use is more harmful.  

A Harvard University study on vape flavor solutions showed that many of them had diacetyl, a lung-destroying chemical. Diacetyl breaks small airways in the lungs which results in the production of scar tissue. An overabundance of scar tissue can lead to a life-threatening illness called Bronchiolitis Obliterans, with symptoms such as shortness of breath and dry coughing.

Science News reports that the usage of vapes also harms the immune system. An experiment in 2014 showed that mice exposed to vape fumes had two times less resistance to the streptococcus virus than those exposed to tobacco fumes, and three times less than mice who were not exposed to anything but air.

The policy at MHS for cigarettes applies to E-Cigarettes as well. Any student or faculty member found possessing or using a tobacco or smoking product at MHS or an MHS event will face a monetary fine and police citation in addition to any other disciplinary action.