The next airbenders

Traditional escapism now available as e-cigarette


Story by Madison Brown and Misty Lopez, managing editor and in-depth editor

Everything the teacher says is a blur. Each second passes as the teacher turns around to wipe away the equation on the board. Time is at an apparent standstill.

This is it— the perfect opportunity.

The student slips a thin, metallic object out of the backpack lying on the floor and puts the device up to his mouth. The button is pressed with a single motion of his thumb. Inhale. Hold. Exhale. There’s only one focus, one objective for the student: don’t get caught.

Recent studies have shown that about 38 percent of high schoolers nationwide have tried a vaping product within the last year, not considering the regular usage of the product and about 39 percent of students have tried a vaping product on campus.

Vaping, which is not directly referenced in our student handbook, has opened up new territory when it comes to disciplinary action.

— Madison Brown

Vaporizers, vape pens and e-cigarettes (popularly known as vapes) have made a recent comeback and are continuing to grow in popularity, especially among teenagers. Vapes are rising in use, once again becoming a source of controversy.  

“There has been an increase of vaping at Texas High. In my classes, that’s all you hear about,” junior Daisy Rosas* said. “They’re either talking about the kind of vape they have or getting students to vape in class while the teachers aren’t watching. They sometimes vape in the bathroom.”

Vapes were originally developed to aid smokers who were addicted to cigarettes, but teens are now using them for other purposes. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, manufacturers don’t have to report e-cig ingredients, so users don’t know what’s in them. Most teenagers say it’s just flavoring, about a fourth don’t know, and the rest either put nicotine or marijuana in them.

“My first exposure to vaping was seeing my parents do it when they were quitting cigarettes,” junior Reece Jones* said. “I know that vaping can cause popcorn lungs and possibly a nicotine addiction.”

Their ability to produce interesting smoke effects while being easily concealed and generating the pleasure of a buzz have prompted more students to hop on the bandwagon.

“I tried vaping because I wanted to learn how to do the cool tricks that some professional vapers do,” senior Jose Lopez* said. “When I first started vaping, I thought it was cool because of the amount of smoke you could exhale.”

Unlike cigarettes, the health risks of vaping are not as studied, publicized or well known, which leads to many misconceptions and has increased the number of students who participate in this activity.

“As far as I know, vaping doesn’t have the major effect that smoking does of causing lung or any other type of cancer, but that definitively doesn’t mean that there are no negative effects,” sophomore Cameron James* said. “An addiction is an addiction, whether it is directly harmful or not, so I think that there are still possible consequences that need to be explored.”

Although vapes can’t be purchased as a minor, students have found loopholes to this law, whether it’s getting it from a friend, a parent or from online. The quest for this fix has not been hindered.

“I ordered my vape on eBay, which doesn’t have strict checks over age, and used my debit card,” freshman Jake Patrick* said. “They simply just drop off the package if no one is home, so it was easy for me to get my order while my parents were at work.”

Vaping, which is not directly referenced in our student handbook, has opened up new territory when it comes to disciplinary action. Vapes have caused a misunderstanding between administration and students in terms of consequences.

“They gave me ISS. I have to take all my semester exams, and I couldn’t go to prom,” senior Seth Carson* said. “I wish I hadn’t done it at school, but I think they were excessive with my consequences.”

Administration is determined to crack down on vaping. The age restriction for vaping is 18, which makes any kind of consumption a legal offense. Vaping will be presented with the same consequences as tobacco and marijuana.

“We’ve made it tougher on discipline,” Principal Brad Bailey said. “We would advise teachers to be aware and address any students vaping by reporting them to administration. With the advances in the technology, it’s harder for us to identify some of the devices they are using to vape. However, a puff of smoke or scent is a strong indication of someone vaping. I think we can do a better job of educating our staff on what vaping is and what to look for.  Also, it’s important to let everyone know of the consequences of vaping and how it is not allowed at school.”

*denotes name change