Up in Smoke: The Bathroom Vaping Problem


Ian Whitfield

Students often go into the bathrooms during the day to vape.

Since the start of last year, all sorts of new vapes have become extremely popular all around Dominion High School. The vape devices range from normal vapes, to Juuls, to Sourins, and Dab Pens. Throughout the school day kids will go into the restrooms in order to get a quick “buzz” before going back to class.

“It is just something to do in between the blocks. It just to pass time. No good reason to do it,” said a senior who wanted to remain anonymous. Students are using e-cigs during school hours not only to just keep up with trends, but also in order to relax.

“I get really stressed out about school and it helps calm me down during school when I have lots of class work, presentations or homework. I actually believe it improves my focus during school,” said a junior who wanted to remain anonymous.

A new Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study that showed nearly 1 in 4 high school students (24.1%) have used an electronic cigarette of some type before. The American Psychiatric Association also did a study that showed that 13% of 8th graders, who are not even high schoolers yet, are vaping.

According to a New York Times article, Juul Labs announced that they will stop selling most flavored e-cigarettes and will shut down their social media platforms as well. This was a result of increased pressure from the FDA about trying to cut down the amount of students that use e-cigarettes. Juul announced the flavored they will remove will be the mango, fruit, crème and cucumber.

According to a study done by CNN, each Juul pod contains about 200 puffs which is equal to an entire pack of cigarettes . Aerosols produced by vape devices are also extremely dangerous to lungs. They also contain toxic cancer-causing chemicals and other harmful agents such as volatile substances.

Some students are aware of these dangers, but choose to ignore it. A sophomore who wanted to remain anonymous said, “I am aware, especially, because my grandfather died from emphysema. I understood what I was getting myself into, but it was definitely more of a trend thing.” Emphysema is a condition in which the air sacs of the lungs are damaged and enlarged, causing breathlessness. That same sophomore said, “I am aware of the negative benefits, but I believe that the reward outweighs the risks.”

“Students think they can hide out and use those bathrooms for a safe haven to do illegal behavior,” Deputy MacBeth said. When MacBeth finds groups of students conjuring in the bathrooms he talks to the students, and reminds them about proper behavior in the bathrooms. “I am addressing those issues of public health by letting them know it is not healthy for them. I remind them that it is not a safe alternative for cigarettes, chewing tobacco, not a safe alternative in general, and it is illegal.”

The percentage of student that vape in high school is 24%, but students believe that is much greater than that. A anonymous junior said, “I think the percent of kids who vape in our school is 40%.” The idea that the percentage is so high is a common one, as an anonymous sophomore said, “I think if I had to give a rough estimate I would say 30% to 40%.” The belief that the percentage of students who vape is significantly higher than those who actually do influences kids to vape, because the idea is that “everyone does it”.

“Every time a member of our administrative staff walks down the hallway they are suppose to step into the bathroom, and walking around to see what is going on in there,” Dr. Brewer said.

The punishment for being caught vaping varies between whether it is your first offense, second, or third offense. The punishment for a first offense is typically to assign a student a three day in school suspension. If it is a students second or even third offense then the student receives three days of out of school suspension. It can also vary based on if you are using it or just possessing it. Students also must participate in a “smoking cessation program” along with their suspension.

“It is not completely a major problem at our school, but at certain times of the day or certain times of the week there seems to be more activity than normal,” MacBeth said.