Vaping related deaths have risen: are Edina students next?

Isadora Li, staff writer

If one wanted to find someone who vapes at Edina High School, they wouldn’t have to search hard. Use of nicotine products is especially prominent in the high school bathrooms. The habit is so bad that the bathroom doors must remain open during the school day, a rule recently added by the EHS administration. In addition, Principal Andy Beaton stated that during the 2018-2019 school year, 75% of administrative discipline was related to electronic cigarettes. On a national level, the epidemic has become so severe that on Wednesday, September 11th, President Donald Trump proposed a ban on all flavored electronic cigarettes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 380 confirmed cases of hospitalizations and seven confirmed deaths, one in Minnesota, related to e-cigarettes. Although vaping devicessuch as Juuls and Dab Penshave existed since the 1960’s, the long term impacts of these products are unknown, due to the recent growth in popularity. However, the recent deaths have allowed medical professionals to gauge the dangers of this practice.

A common misconception among students is that Juuls and other electronic cigarettes don’t contain nicotine. This is untrue as Juul pods can contain up to 40 milligrams of nicotine as opposed to a pack of cigarettes, which typically contain between 8 and 20 milligrams according to Vaping Daily and Juul.

 The rise of vape related hospitalizations is causing many people to wonder how vaping will impact EHS students. “Hopefully it’ll scare them and motivate them to stop, but honestly I don’t think many of the people that do it are going to stop doing it,” an unnamed sophomore said. “At least ten [of my friends vape],” another anonymous sophomore said, “I think they brought [the consequences of vaping] upon themselves. They can be smarter… I hope [they stop], I can’t say for sure though.”

In response to the increase in student vaping, EHS has implemented new methods to aid in cessation. One way they do this is through providing students access to a chemical health counselor, Chris Lawler, who aims to promote the importance of mental health and support students who wish to drop their substance abuse issues. EHS has also set up student-designed posters discouraging the practice around the school. One such poster even featured EHS security monitor Tony Harmon advising against the use of e-cigarettes.

Vaping is a highly scrutinized topic that school administrators and national leaders are working against. The destructive habit is increasing among young people and interfering with daily life in a variety of settings. Despite the growth of nicotine product use among youth, leaders remain optimistic about change being possible.