Vaping Policies

  Principal Jennifer Baker announced in mid-October that the school would crack down on the use of ‘vaping machines’ during class and school sponsored activities. One popular device used by many students is the “JUUL” vaporizer. The company was founded by two smokers who were dissatisfied with the health and social impacts of cigarettes. A starter pack which includes the JUUL device, charger and a pack of pods is sold on the website for $49.99.

   The use of this e-cigarette has spiked in recent months, but has been prevalent for the last year or so. Although the website markets the product as an alternative to cigarettes, they get heavy use from young people who may have never smoked before. The use of tobacco products has more than tripled from 2013 to 2015.

   Most cigarettes only contain about 3% strength nicotine, while many vape pens hover around 6%.

   In addition to media exposure, part of the reason that vape pens are so popular among students is that the particular health risks will not be known for years due to how recently they have became available. But due to the chemicals that many vapes contain, there is some knowledge of the harm to one’s health.

   On the back of every JUUL pod box it says that the product “contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer”.

   Why do students, in spite of the fact that they are educated of health risks, continue to partake in these risky activities? 

   “Kids see them on social media and in the school itself and probably feel like if all their peers are doing it then it must not be that bad,” senior Zach Boudabbous said. “I probably see someone using a vape once per week.”

   One anonymous senior girl says that although she doesn’t consider herself a bad kid, she has still used a vaping machine during school hours.

   “My friend passed me a JUUL during lunch and I decided to try it. I know it’s not good for me, but in the moment it felt right,” the student said. “I didn’t feel peer pressure, but I was just curious.”

   One WJ senior boy makes a profit off of buying and selling juuls to fellow students. “It’s not very hard to get them from stores and online,” the student said. “Most places will sell you vapes without even asking for your I.D.”

For this student and many others around WJ, juuling has become a lucrative business.

“I sell to people almost every day and make a few dollars profit on every JUUL or pod I sell,” he said. “On a good week, I can make $100, and I know other people who make more. At this point I would say that a good 30 to 40 percent of students here own one or have tried it.”

  Despite the announcement meant to deter students from using the vaping machines in school, it appears that there is no notable difference in the prevalence of them in and around Walter Johnson. With something the size of a flash drive that is so easy to conceal, it is understanda