Nicotine Epidemic


Steffan Rygaard

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Aadesh Khadka

Nicotine has ruptured our school from within and out. It has caused students to frantically venture for the smoke when smoke deprived. A simple vaporizing element, a tool, a device–a vape–has made it feasible for students to vape in school with such versatility and mobility. More than ten students can vape in the same bathroom without getting detected by the smoke detector. A big cloud goes undetected, unsighted, but with just a sigh, a puff, and a huff indeed. Not only does its–vape products–characteristic as undetected become appealing to kids in high school, but also it comes in different flavors which makes it more appealing to kids. And the companies that manufacture these products have taken it to the next level by making it look like our everyday items like USB drive, lipstick, and pen. For example, let’s take JUUL, even though it is a vape product, it mimics the physical outlook like a USB drive. A statistical record shows that 31% of the sample said JUUL products were used by a “friend or family member,” 31% due to availability of “flavors such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate,” and17% Believe that “they are less harmful than other forms of tobacco such as cigarettes.”

How have FCPS schools become victims of the nicotine epidemic? Is it because of the lack of awareness that FCPS is lacking? Not really, because FCPS schools do immaculate work in spreading the awareness through digital media, seminars, and also passing the schools rules and regulation (SR&R) to students in school. With the experience of attending three different schools within FCPS what I have witnessed in common is that they in time to time conduct a digital media awareness via video. In the video they specifically talk about the vaping devices and what consequences students face after they are confiscated with a device. Moreover, they also conduct SR&R assessment where they specifically question the vaping device. 

And to further my research, I questioned some of the security personnel at my school, who catch kids with vaping devices. Before they talked about the vaping device and nicotine epidemic in the contemporary era, they also gave me a small contextualization of what was the “Smoking culture” during their era. They said that, during their times, there was a smoking area in their high school where both teacher and student could openly smoke. People did not smoke in the bathroom because there were no vape devices back then, which made it impossible to smoke inside school. It was at least safer back then in a sense that there were less or no cases of passive smoking, for which passive smoking is not only harmful, but also unjust to those who don’t smoke. And also their main concern for vaping in the school bathroom was that people who don’t smoke were being affected, as the bathroom is such a concentrated area where a lot of non-smoker use for the sake of using the bathroom.  And when questioned, how many students get caught per admin per day? They said, at least 1 to 2. Which is insane because the amount of students combined per month or year is very large. And they also mentioned that, lot of students could feasibly get away with it in many ways. The versatility of the device makes them portable to carry, hide, and smoke unsighted.