Despite negative health risks, students can be found vaping both inside and outside of school.

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After the rise in vapes coming to Northwest last year, students have moved to a more discreet alternative to get their nicotine intake. It is no longer uncommon for students to take hits off their Phixs or Juuls throughout the school day.

“Just last hour, this kid next to me was hitting his Phix,” junior Shawdee Ahmadian said. “He was just letting the smoke out, and the teacher was on the other side of the room. I was like, ‘Are you dumb?’”

In November of this school year, Ahmadian said she received two days of in-school-suspensions for putting a friend’s Phix in another friend’s locker to store it.

Ahmadian’s mother, Fara Tavallali, said through an email her daughter did not receive any big punishments at home because Ahmadian was dealing with in-school-suspensions.

However, Tavallali said the incident was unexpected and does not believe other kids should be getting in similar situations.

“We were very surprised when this happened with Shawdee, because we know she usually does not get involved with these type[s] of things,” Tavallali said. “I think vaping in high school and [in] general is a huge waste of time, and hope my daughter nor any other high school kids bring it to school or do it outside of school.”

Yet despite what happened to Ahmadian, she said there are still people who do not care about the risk of getting caught with some form of a vape in class. Ahmadian said she finds discussion about vaping is frequent throughout the day too, as people talk about their vapes they have to appear cool.

“I was just talking about it in chemistry with people, and three out of the four people I was talking to had Phixs,” Ahmadian said. “I feel like it’s just something people can relate with. Since so many people are getting them, more and more people think they’re expected to get [them] as well.”

Associate principal Tyler Alexander said after the rise in popularity of vaping plateaued from last year, administrators have now seen a rise in Phix and Juul usage in bathrooms. Due in part to a smaller size, Phixs and Juuls have become more popular with students. But, unlike a typical vape, these devices do not emit a large cloud of vapor.

“We are aware about bathrooms being a prime area,” Alexander said. “We are also more aware of what devices look like, what they could be mistaken as.

Vaping has become so popular among students that despite its illegality, the rise in willingness to do it at school on the BVNW campushas continued. A recent survey of 338 students conducted by The Express found that 65.4 percent said they have seen people vape on campus before. The survey also found that nearly 68 percent of students who responded said they do not think vaping is viewed negatively by the student body. Almost 58 percent of students said they view vaping as safer than smoking cigarettes.

With recent problems involving vaping in the school, Alexander uses the tobacco policy in any instances dealing with vapes, Phixs or Juuls.

“There is a set policy in terms of how we handle anything that has tobacco related consequences, and vaping still fits in that tobacco policy,” Alexander said.

During the survey, 77.2 percent of students said if they saw someone vaping at school, they would not report it.

Senior Kenzie Clark said she believes students are more likely to vape in school because vaping is viewed more positively than smoking cigarettes.

We do have concerns about more kids using e-cigarettes or vaping, only because I think some have viewed that as maybe being a safer way of obtaining nicotine and it is not. It is addictive just like smoking cigarettes would be.”

— Angela Croom

“I don’t know why, but cigarettes have a bad name to them as Juuls and Phixs don’t really have a bad name to them,” Clark said. “I just think they don’t really realize the major consequences of it. They just think it’s not as bad as smoking so that it’s better.”

Ahmadian said people will still vape despite any health problems that can be associated with it, even nicotine poisoning.

“I know some people may take a break after getting nicotine poisoning,” Ahmadian said. “After hitting it so much, you will get sick and you’ll just be throwing up and stuff. I know of people who have had that. But then again, those people still do it. It doesn’t really stop them.”

Angela Croom, a pediatrician in the emergency room at Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas, said  vomiting is a symptom of nicotine poisoning, but not the most common side effect associated with it. According to Croom, the most common symptoms of nicotine poisoning are agitation, irritability and restlessness.

“We do have concerns about more kids using e-cigaretts or vaping,” Croom said, “only because I think some have viewed that as maybe being a safer way of obtaining nicotine and it is not. It is addictive just like smoking cigarettes would be.”

Croom said more serious cases of nicotine poisoning would include convulsions and difficulty breathing. She also said depending on how the nicotine was taken in, some people may experience burning sensations or increased saliva in their mouths.

Health and Wellness teacher Molly Haggerty’s viewpoint on vaping is similar to Croom’s, as she encourages others to know the health risks before taking a hit.

“I think there is this misconception that everyone is doing it,” Haggerty said. “I think if you feel like everyone is doing it, then you probably feel like it’s not that bad. It just kind of comes down to the misinformation, making sure you know what you are putting into your body and understanding the risk factors.”

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the e-cigarette aerosol users breathe from devices that can contain harmful chemicals like nicotine, volatile organic compounds and carcinogenic chemicals.

Both Haggerty and Alexander said the unknown health risks associated with vaping concern them, especially with a majority of students not perceiving vaping to be as dangerous as it could be.

“I think the biggest thing is the kids need to not just look for the information that goes along with their viewpoint or their opinion,” Haggerty said. “If they are going to be a responsible consumer, and they want to be considered an adult, then you have to be able to weigh both sides of it.”