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Teen Vaping

dreamstime l 142766869 Houston Crime StoppersIs there a rapid number of teens using vapes today? The answer is absolutely- yes! Many experts are diving deep into this issue to notify parents, schools and law enforcement how to properly handle this rising problem. At Crime Stoppers, the Safe School team hear from students, administrators and campus police how vaping influences teens day to day lives. This post will discuss the popularity of vaping, problems schools are facing, what chemicals teens are actually ingesting and the laws teens face when choosing to participate.

First and foremost, why is vaping to popular with youth? Vapes come in many shapes and sizes. But most teens like smaller vapes that can fit into their fist. Small vapes are easy to conceal, therefore easy to hide from parents and teachers in plain sight. The vape juice can also be flavored. There is tabaco flavored juice, as well as mango, mint, crème, fruit and cucumber to name a few. Vapes are reusable, unlike cigarettes. The nicotine levels in vapes are extremely high, therefore you can become addicted very quickly. Nicotine is the most addictive substance in the world and unfortunately students are unaware of this and chose to try vaping before making an informed decision not to. And to add to the list- vapes are easily accessible. You can buy them at gas stations, grocery stores, marts and smoke shops. You must be 21 years of age to purchase a vape in the state of Texas, but the employees at many of these stores do not ask for identification or accept fake identification.

Schools are also finding themselves in the middle of this epidemic. Students are highly addicted to vaping so they are bringing the device into the classroom. Many reports have been made of teachers seeing a rise in students asking to leave class and use the restroom, subsequently the students are caught smoking in the halls or in the bathroom. There is also clothing that students can purchase on the internet that hides the vape securely. If a student uses a vape when a teacher is writing on the board in the front of the classroom, by the time the teacher turns around the vapor/smoke has dissipated making it very hard to catch in the moment.

Once students are notified about the chemicals they inhale when vaping it might make them think twice before consuming. At Crime Stoppers, through our Substance Use Prevention presentation, we educate students on what is actually going in their body. Propylene glycol the chemical in antifreeze, vegetable glycerin the chemical in shampoo and toothpaste and Formaldehyde which is used for the preservation of animal specimens. These chemicals can cause major harm to the body. The chemicals can coat the inside of lungs making it harder and harder for people to breathe. Not only is this something to be very concerned about, but what about all the unknowns? The people using vapes today are basically an experiment to long term side effects researchers are not aware of yet.

It is illegal to purchase or obtain vapes in Texas under the age of 21. Recently, the law was that you had to be at least 18 years of age, but that changed on September 1st 2019. If you are caught with a vape on school campus that is illegal. Schools are alcohol and drug free zones, therefore breaking the student code of conduct. Schools can, in turn, punish the student however the deem necessary for the crime.

Please talk to your students about the dangers of using a vape, the potential side effects, and the legalities! We want all students in Houston to feel informed and empowered to make decision that will not affect their future opportunities. And most importantly, help keep the students safe!

Posted by Crime Stoppers of Houston Safe School Institute Team on 18 Oct 2019