Vaping: A new crisis?

McCovey Staples, Staff Writer

It’s in the bathrooms. It’s in the locker rooms. It’s even in the parking lot after school… students are using illegal and harmful vaping devices.

This is no new occurrence, but recently several teenagers have been hospitalized due to vaping. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, as of Dec. 3, 2019, there have been approximately 2,291 reported cases of a new lung injury directly related to the use of e-cigarette and vaping products. The crisis has resulted in the death of 48 individuals across 25 states and the District of Columbia. Most of these patients had reported using nicotine or THC-containing products bought off street dealers, and not from licensed retailers.

In Escondido alone, one can find many of these so-called “plugs”: dealers who claim to be selling brand-name, licensed, and most importantly tested products at lower prices than dispensaries or tobacco stores. Their target market is those who cannot purchase products legally: teenagers and high-schoolers. Many students believe that local law enforcement can have a tough time busting these dealers. 

At San Pasqual High School, students are making the choice to intake untested chemicals.

“On campus, I’ve come across students doing it in the bathroom; I’ve seen students going in there in groups and congregating in corners,” said George Laguna, substitute teacher and facilitator of the SOAR lounge. “You can see the haze in the air. I’ve even seized a few of these Juuls from students.”

The staff and security at San Pasqual have had to receive new training on how to deal with and confiscate these devices from students.

“We have had to go through many staff meetings and trainings because of the bad choices these kids are making,” said Laguna.

Many schools have had to allocate funds to purchase new vapor-detecting devices in their restrooms. Last year alone, there were occasions in which the entire student body and staff would have to evacuate to the football field as a result of students setting off smoke alarms in bathrooms. 

Although the vaping problem is nothing new to this campus, these new findings should be a clear indicator to students who make the decision to use these products. Since the majority of vaping devices used by minors are bought using non-legal methods, those who use them have no idea what they are putting in their bodies. As of Dec. 10, the CDC strongly recommends that people, especially non-adults, should refrain from using any vaping device in general, especially ones that are purchased from dealers.