Social Media has had a large impact on our society’s attitude towards smoking. The effects of smoking tobacco are widely known, with smoking education starting in D.A.R.E. classes as young as intermediate or elementary schools. Tobacco use is constantly declining among teens, however, a “vape culture” has been created within our society and is becoming more widely accepted thanks to social media use. Apps like Instagram and Snapchat have become platforms for younger generations to share videos depicting the use of vape and electronic nicotine delivery devices. For young, impressionable minds, this frequent social media trend has led to the increased use of nicotine products among high school students, especially minors. HSENews sat down with administrators Charlie Hoover, Holly Reine and Jagga Rent to find out more on the extent of their use in HSE.

  “This vape culture is exasperated through social media and everything is sensationalized,” Rent said. “What students don’t understand is that a lot of things could potentially be laced in these vapes or in hookah.”

  A specific type of e-cigarette, the Juul, has become more popular within the walls of HSE since the beginning of the school year. Their discrete design and addictive properties have created problems with students -most of whom are minors- illegally bringing and using them on campus and even inside the building. As a tobacco and drug free campus, this is a serious violation of school policies as stated in the student handbook and can result in consequences.

  “We try to look at most cases individually but there are some policies outlined in the handbook that give us some guidance,” Rent said. “Everything from in school suspension to expulsion is on the table.”

  Social media may have helped push products like the Juul onto the mainstream youth but it is also contributing to ending their illegal use here at HSE. Students should be mindful of what they post and see on their social media platforms, for these posts most often turn into leads for school administration. Students with reasonable suspicion of using or bringing their e-cigarettes onto campus could be subject to searches or even drug testing, which includes a nicotine panel.

“We’ve seen videos on Snapchat and Instagram,” Reine said. “Anything that’s brought to us, we investigate.”

  With e-cigarettes being a relatively new market, the direct, long-term effects of their use are still unknown. The high concentration of nicotine in these vape products has been linked to worsening preexisting heart conditions, but it is still unclear if there is a direct link to causing heart diseases or other conditions. Although they do not contain most of the carcinogens and toxic chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, they are still highly addictive and considered dangerous.

“I think kids are unaware of how dangerous this can be,” Reine said. “It does still contain nicotine which does damage to the body.”

  Above all, administration wants to keep our students safe. Regardless if you are of legal age to purchase tobacco or nicotine products in Indiana, they have no place in school. The school’s message is clear: just don’t.

  “When you make a decision, you start down a path,” Hoover said. “If you make a decision to participate in this, it takes you down a path. You can get into places maybe you didn’t plan to be. We want to keep you on the path of making good decisions that are going to lead you to positive things and I think this path is the wrong one to head down.”

Story by Olivia Smith.

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