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Huffing, puffing, blowing the school down

Vaping+on+campus+is+illegal.
Vaping on campus is illegal.

Vaping on campus is illegal.

Laura Smith

Laura Smith

Vaping on campus is illegal.

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This school is littered with wolves.

Huffing, puffing, vaping wolves.

In and out of activity period, before and after school. They hover around, waiting for another little pig who won’t notice them puffing. In their pockets rest tiny gas flasks vomiting vile fumes. They prowl through the halls, careful to dodge the watchful teachers, until they can hide, sit back and huff.

And puff.

And blow their sugary nastiness into the faces of uninterested classmates who just want to breathe without a headache.

“Vaping” is a slang term used to refer to e-cigarettes, or cigarettes which heat a flavoring container usually containing nicotine into a steam which can be “smoked.” A 2015 study by the CDC found about 16 percent of teens vaped in 2015. Sixteen percent of Canyon High’s 1,166 students adds up to 187 e-cigarette users prowling the halls: 187 wolves.

That’s about 17 football teams, 16 basketball teams, 16 Eagle’s Tale staffs and seven full school buses (with two people per seat). It is more than double the number of full-time teachers the high school has.

So yes–according to the statistics, a lot of students vape. Not all of them vape at school, but some do. And it wouldn’t be as much of a bother and a pain if they did not take their sweet, sugary gas flasks into some classes.

Was it illegal to smoke in class? Was it even against the school rules? I had no clue.”

— Erin Sheffield, 10

I did not even know what a vape looked like until my freshman year. I was in a classroom during an after-school practice, finishing a project as others worked in another room, and another student approached. She asked me if I wanted to go to the car with her. I said no.

And she asked again. And I still said no.

And she asked again with that “come on, say yes, I’m trying to help you here” look. And I was still confused and said no.

She left. I turned around. It turned out three students were giddily passing around their e-cigarettes in the room and testing each others’ flavors. I went home with no progress on my project and a wretched headache.

Of course, that was after school. I still had not heard of anyone vaping in class, so I figured nobody cared if they used their e-cigs in the classroom as long as the smell dissipated by morning. I had not even known what they looked like until that day. And had they used in class, I would not have known what to do. Was it illegal to smoke in class? Was it even against the school rules? I had no clue.

Turns out it is illegal and against the school rules. According to the Texas Education Code, Chapter 38, Section 38.006, students should not be allowed to even possess e-cigarettes on school property or at school events, which includes One Act rehearsals. Page 14 of Canyon ISD’s Code of Conduct states, “Students shall not possess or use… e-cigarettes and any component, part or accessory for an e-cigarette device.”

But the vapers often sneak around teachers, puffing into bottles or only when faculty are not in the room. How can anyone enforce the rules? A fellow little pig stuck in a class of vaping wolves sent me her written account of an in-class incident.

We’ve reached the point at which vaping is such a widespread issue, it no longer just affects a few classrooms; it negatively affects all the students in the school.”

— Erin Sheffield, 10

“At first [the students] were secretive about it,” she wrote. “However, as the weeks progressed and they realized they were getting away with it, they became more ambitious and were doing it openly whenever the teacher wasn’t looking. I tried to keep my mouth shut and ignore them so I could learn, but it was getting out of hand.

“One day, they had the nerve to take the machines apart on their desk and were getting paper towels to clean them. It was starting to really bother me. I turned around to say something, and one of them blew a giant puff of smoke directly in my face. That was it for me. I switched spots at my desk with a friend to get a better view, and then I snapped several pictures of them vaping and turned them in to the school watch hotline.”

Still, despite the victory she achieved, it still isn’t enough. Only one person reporting won’t fix the whole school’s problem; just her class’s. The ban on activity period is aimed at all disciplinary issues–including vaping. We’ve reached the point at which vaping is such a widespread issue, it no longer just affects a few classrooms; it negatively affects all the students in the school. The desire of 187 students to huff and puff some nicotine (sometimes in passing period) now means all 1,166 students can’t meet with their clubs or stop by The Eagle’s Nest for a t-shirt.

There’s plenty of evidence to support not vaping underage at all. Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, and repeated use creates a tolerance. Since e-cigarettes contain nicotine, switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes just strengthens the nicotine addiction. Moreover, researchers at Harvard found 39 of 51 popular e-cigarette flavors include diacetyl, which can cause lung disease when inhaled. It’s unlikely the entire problem of underage vaping will cease, though, no matter how hard we, the little pigs, try.

Therefore, as a wee little pig who sees vapes where they shouldn’t be, I encourage my classmates to take advantage of their voices and their phones. Students can text StayALERT at (206)-406-6485 or call the local Crime Stoppers at (806)-372-8477 to report incidents. As my friend wrote, “You never want to be the person that gets labeled the tattle-tale or the teacher’s pet, but whenever your bad behavior is distracting me from my learning, I will never hesitate to stop it. Your social status is not worth my education.”

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7 Comments

7 Responses to “Huffing, puffing, blowing the school down”

  1. Kaylee Mays on May 9th, 2017 3:19 pm

    Although vaping at school is illegal and against the school rules, most of the students at Canyon High School that “vape” are 18 years old and can legally possess an e-cigarette in the state of Texas. The study by the CDC found that 16% of teens in the United States use an e-cigarette, not 16% of teens in every school. It is highly unlikely that 187 students at Canyon High School vape. Most of the “facts” in this article are highly opinionated. Even then, a handful of students might vape during class, but those handful of students do not represent everyone who uses an e-cigarette, neither does this activity only occur in One-Act rehearsal. Why point out one group of the school when e-cigarettes are used by teens involved in many different activities? Also, although nicotine is addictive, heroin and cocaine can enter your body in many ways and ruin your body in more ways than one. E-cigarettes do not strengthen a nicotine addiction, as you can control how much nicotine is put into each bottle of juice inserted into the vape, meaning not every e-cigarette contains nicotine.

    [Reply]

    Erin Sheffield Reply:

    Hi there, Kaylee! First thing first – thank you very much for replying. Your thoughts are very valid, and I respect you taking the time to comment. However, this article was not necessarily against all e-cigarette use – although it is a problem with its own set of consequences and corresponding diseases, we already have an article against e-cigarette-use in general (the related story at the bottom of the page). This particular article is against e-cigarette use at school. Even though the 18-year-olds can legally possess e-cigarettes, like you said, it remains illegal on campus. Also, unless you can find a survey of Canyon High which disproves the CDC’s evidence (which is in this article hypothetically), there is no way to prove Canyon High is below the national average for e-cigarette use. Also, I pointed out this particular activity because it was my first experience. I am in no way saying all e-cigarette users are in One Act or that they are all the same. In fact, I’m sure many don’t bring their devices to school at all. The quote from someone else did not take place in One Act, either; it happened in a class. I am not trying to destroy reputations of organizations. I was mentioning my first experience, which happened to occur in a rehearsal and could have happened anywhere else. This last point is valid, but also presents its own risk. A user can control how much nicotine goes into the device; moreover, the user can choose how much of anything else goes into the device. An article by CNN found if an e-cigarette user put drugs into a pen, the pen would have to be tested in a forensic laboratory before drugs would be found. Chances are many of the users in school are simply using the flavors alone (which, by the way, still contain harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde), but if a person arrived at school with illegal drugs in a vape pen, administration would have no way of knowing what was in the pen. Again, I appreciate your time and your ideas, but I can’t say I agree. Thank you! ES

    [Reply]

    Kaylee Reply:

    Nevertheless, your opinions are based on facts that are invalid and can be disproved, like you said. There is no way to prove Canyon High School is below the national average, but there is also no way to know if Canyon High is exact with the national average, either, without sending out a survey. I am not glorifying or supporting the use of e-cigarettes. I agree that e-cigarettes should not be used at school, as it is against the rules However, you are making yourself a victim of an over-exaggerated situation.

    [Reply]

    adviser Reply:

    Hi Kaylee! Thanks for reading and interacting with us. I’m glad you agree e-cigarettes should not be used at school per both school policy and state law. We welcome comments and encourage you to continue your research which will indeed show vaping can have harmful effects. Both school administration and multiple students have expressed their frustration to me, and they don’t believe this is an over exaggeration. Thanks again for reading The Eagle’s Tale.

  2. Lexi Gupton on May 10th, 2017 9:25 am

    Erin, this is your opinion on how you feel about “vaping.” If you could prove that there was anything wrong with “vaping” please prove the facts. The vapor that comes out of the e-cigarettes is not smoke and the second hand smoke is not toxic. After a student is 18 they have the legal right to go and buy an e-cigarette, the school can take it up if they got caught with it and charge a fine but its not really harming anyone.

    [Reply]

    adviser Reply:

    Hi Lexi! Thanks for reading The Eagle’s Tale. Yes, this is Erin’s opinion. (It is published as a blog.) Feel free to do more research about the effects vaping can have on health. Even a quick online search yields multiple articles detailing a variety of problems associated with vaping. Thanks for interacting with us.

    [Reply]

    Erin Sheffield Reply:

    Hello, Lexi! Thank you for addressing this issue. Again, I’d like to mention this article is specifically about e-cigarette use in school, not necessarily e-cigarette use in general, since we already have an article concerning the risks of “vaping.” Still, if you would like to visit some articles on the topic: Bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung,” can be caused through e-cig flavorings (source). Formaldehyde is also present in flavorings when e-cigarettes are overheated for stronger flavors (as mentioned here). Also, as I mentioned with Kaylee Mays, e-cigarettes are easily misused. Yes, they can be used to wean off of cigarettes by gradually reducing nicotine doses, but any user could increase the amount of nicotine or include another drug without detection. I mentioned the link for that information in my reply to her. Inhaling secondhand vapes can certainly smell bad, but it poses no true risk, and I never stated it did. The issue I’m addressing in this article is the abuse of e-cigarettes at school, no matter the user’s age. It would be illegal for both a 15-year-old student and an 18-year-old student to possess e-cigarettes on school grounds, even though the 18-year-old could legally purchase one. Thank you again for your comment – I appreciate your view! ES

    [Reply]

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