At high schools around the country, the use of electronic cigarettes has become an alarming trend, especially since the Centers for Disease Control has identified hundreds of health problems related to “vaping.”
It’s also an issue in Glendale, some say.
Alexandria Shaw and Mariah Bradley, recent graduates of Glendale High School, said electronic cigarettes were a “big problem” on campus when they were students there.
The two, now freshmen at Glendale Community College (GCC), recalled one of the measures the school took to prevent students from vaping.
“They had to close the restrooms,” Bradley said. “They had one restroom open and it was by the office so teachers could see who was going in and out.”
Glendale High School did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Both the Glendale Union High School and Maricopa County Community College Districts alike have zero-tolerance policies in place for vaping or smoking. Detection can be difficult as vaping can be odorless, particularly compared to cigarette smoking.
Ironwood, Raymond S. Kellis and Cactus high schools are among the 42 schools in the Peoria Unified School District. In an email response, the district told the Glendale Star it is “focusing efforts on student safety and well-being, which includes more student and parent education about the dangers of vaping. We have held presentations in conjunction with local law enforcement and continue to pursue efforts that build awareness for our students.”
The district also said it had 279 tobacco violations in the 2017-18 academic year — and 57 so far this school year.
Shaw, who said she vaped two years ago “just to try it,” believes those policies are appropriate.
“Personally, I just feel like it’s out of respect for others. If you want to vape, it should be when you’re in your own space and not where you’re close to people. You’re not being considerate of their conditions,” Shaw said.
Paxton Morris, a sophomore at GCC, said he’s allergic to nicotine and “not too fond” of vaping.
“It’s unhealthy. I’d say it’s more of a hazard than cigarettes, but it’s also very similar to cigarettes. They both do bad things to the lungs,” Morris said.
Vaping is the process of inhaling a vapor produced by an electronic cigarette that usually contains nicotine, solvents and flavorings. The Trump administration said in September it plans to ban the sale of flavored, non-tobacco electronic cigarettes.
According to the CDC, 13 around the country have died due to breathing illnesses associated with electronic cigarettes. There are also 805 confirmed and probable cases of vaping-related lung disease in the United States.
On Sept. 23, the City of Goodyear passed an ordinance raising the age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21. It was the first city in the Valley to make such a move. The state minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes is 18.
Morris believes the government should not regulate the product use. He says teens will find a way around it.
“They’ll have their older brother or older sister buy it, or their mom or dad that does the same thing will buy it for them. I think the same thing will happen when it comes to alcohol. People drink alcohol in high school, so they’re going to vape regardless. I think it’s all up to the way they want to take care of themselves,” Morris said.
According to a recent national survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 1 in 9 high school seniors vape nicotine on a near daily-basis.
Nash Knowlton, a freshman at GCC, thinks those numbers are higher, around here. At his Ironwood High School campus, vaping was all too common, he said.
“After school, you’d see six kids, in your friend group, and they’d pull out their mods (larger vaping devices than e-cigarettes) and just start blowing away. I’m like, ‘You guys are just wasting your lives,’” Knowlton said.
While Knowlton said he thinks vape products are dangerous because “electronics are bound to fail,” he doesn’t think raising the age is the solution.
“Kids will always find a way around it. They may have that cool uncle that would supply them,” he said.
There is only one way to keep school kids from vaping, Knowlton said:
“The solution is to get rid of the product.”