Can we really stop teens from smoking?


Marielis Mejias

A Breeze-Nicotine

You’re in class and your teacher leaves. And, in the corner of your eye you see a kid take out their vape and hit it. The teacher comes back and acts like nothing happened. Because as far as she is concerned nothing did happen. It was that quick.
We all know that smoking/vaping is bad for you…but others beg to differ. Vapes contain nicotine which is a highly addictive stimulant drug. Nicotine could leave you with strokes, heart attacks, popcorn lung, shortness of breath, severe lung injury, and seizures. Some kids may think that vaping is harmless because they offer kid-friendly and appealing flavors. They’re also easy to hide and easy to do in indoor areas like bedrooms, bathrooms and classrooms.
Not only is nicotine bad for you, so is marijuana. Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug. Marijuana causes impaired thinking and interferes with a person’s ability to learn. THC also disrupts functioning of the brain areas that regulate balance, posture, coordination, and reaction time.
Despite all those effects of both marijuana and nicotine…teens still chose to continue to abuse them.
When interviewing some students here at WHS, I wanted to get a reason why smoking is so prominent in our school. Many say they smoke because “its fun” and others would tell you that it makes them “feel calm”. Others may have behavior disorders such as ADHD, and marijuana helps ease that.
Teens here know vaping/smoking is bad for them. They know that “it really doesn’t ” benefit them, it’s just because they “like it” and are addicted. Some may say the only way it does benefit them is because it makes them “chill”. “Vaping is nasty, I just like catching my clouds for real,” he said. Now others may not even like vaping themselves but find some type of pleasure in doing so.
We all know vaping/smoking is highly addictive. Marijuana and Nicotine are sometimes gateways away from all the stress revolving around teens’ lives. Whether that’s school, sports, or even things going on at home. Some may even feel like “it’s something they need” and that “no” they cannot quit. While others claim they aren’t addicted to anything and can quit “whenever I want”.
Teens are vaping/smoking in many different places. Whether that’s the bathrooms, breakout rooms, or even in classrooms when teachers aren’t paying attention. Though some have claimed that “yes I’ve been busted”. While others say that “no they can’t catch me, and won’t ever”. Regardless of getting caught or almost caught, teens are still going to engage in vaping/smoking here at WHS.
“It’s a fruity flavor, it’s like a treat,” she said. Vapes have these appealing flavors that many people like. Some of their favorite flavors consist of Lush Ice, Strawberry Kiwi, Cherry Cola, and Anejo. But, those are just a few among many flavors. Teens usually smoke Breezes and Elf Bars here at WHS, though there are many different kinds of brands associated with vapes.
Now THC is something you can’t necessarily smoke at school unless you have things called cartridges. Carts are small cannabis cartridges containing oil concentrates of the plant’s active medicinal ingredients. Once you attach that to a vape pen you then have easy access to smoking it. They’re easy to sneak in and out of places.
Many students claim THC is beneficial to them because it “makes me happy” but only for a certain period of time. Derealization is a common thing when smoking THC. It’s a mental state where you feel detached from your surroundings. People and objects around you may seem unreal. Even so, you’re aware that this altered state isn’t normal. Considering Marijuana is a mind-altering substance. And, many teens like that feeling. Because, it is an escape from their reality which might not be as good.
Teens don’t realize how much vaping/smoking affects their brain, motivation, and learning. Such as nicotine because it affects your brain development. It can make it harder to learn and concentrate. And, some of the brain changes are permanent and can affect your mood and ability to control your impulses as an adult. And, marijuana creates short-term memory loss, making it difficult to recall information and remember events accurately. For students that smoke marijuana regularly, this can create issues in school by lowering test scores and decreasing the quality of assignments. And, in the long run will evidently affect teens and their future. Many teens who engage in vaping/smoking have big plans for the future. And, with them vaping/smoking as a factor it decreases their chances. Now not all may be affected by this in the long run but most will.
Counselors, behavior workers, teachers, principals all know that there is an issue here at WHS. Many have busted kids in their time working here at WHS if not once but multiple times. “Yes, it is a problem here at school,” stated Mr. Hernandez. “There is much research that shows that it’s not healthy, in the long run it won’t be favorable to you.”
He brings up that in recent studies there are starting to see more cavities in students who vape. “They cannot stop it from happening unless they see it,” he said. “I can only hope, wish, and talk to kids about it.”
So no, we cannot stop kids from smoking here at WHS. Regardless of getting caught or busted students are still going to continue to engage in vaping/smoking. Sometimes all you can do is hope for the best, and hope that if not all that some will come to the senses and realize it’s not an ideal thing to do. Despite all the effects of the brain and body some will still continue on without a care in the world. We can only hope that students here at WHS do better to become better.