The vapes and the vape-nots: How high schoolers deal with vaping culture


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – The vaping epidemic has been sweeping the nation this year. New York State legislators have proposed several bills to cut back on vaping and vape companies have fought back.

According to studies from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 27.5 percent of high school students and 10.5 percent of eighth-graders say they use e-cigarettes. More than half of teenagers who vape use Juul e-cigarettes and mint pods are the number one flavor among high school kids.

But if you cut through all the noise, there are kids who have never tried it and probably never will. News 8 talked to three of them. Tamyah Simon, Sa’Brae Gibson, and Craig Oakley are three Rochester high schoolers who choose to sit out of the vaping phenomenon. They each have their own reasons why.

“Because we’re still growing, it messes up what we have going, like our brain and things like that,” Gibson said.

“I know if I told my mom I was doing that she would be disappointed in me,” said Simon.

“To me vaping is just like picking up a cigarette. Nah, I’m not doing that,” Oakley added.

So these three aren’t doing it, but a lot of their peers are. Gibson and Simon said they’ve been offered a vape.

“They asked me if I wanted to smoke with them and I was like, ‘no’ and they just kept asking me like, ‘just do it, just do it’,” Simon said.

Gibson had a similar situation. She said she takes the back stairs to lunch and someone passed her and asked if she wanted to vape. She also said no. She also said people have told her vaping is easy to hide at school.

“They tell me it was more convenient to do it instead of rolling a blunt and smoking weed so I guess for them it was more convenient to pick it up, puff it, and you’re high for a second,” she said.

They also said the small size of the vape and the subtle smell make it easier to keep it lowkey.

“If you go in public, it’s easy to vape but weed you really have to focus.”

When asked if kids hide vaping from their parents, all three students answered overwhelmingly, “Yes.” Simon said there’s also a “cool” factor.

“With vapes, it’s like an accessory you can buy things for it you can style it,” she said.

Oakley said his friend told him it relieves her stress. “I was like, ‘just find something else’. And I called her on it I told her she was addicted to smoking and she said it’s not like that,” he said.

So what’s the solution here? Gibson offered her insight. “It would be based on the structure you have at home because if you have no boundaries for certain things, then there’s not gonna be a result regardless of if you learn about it at school or people trying to lead you in the right direction. I feel like it’s all based on how you live at home and the structure there.”

When asked about the flavor ban lawmakers are trying to pass in New York State, all three said they don’t think it’ll make much of a difference because kids will always find a way to get vapes. But they also said a ban wouldn’t hurt.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 37 deaths from vaping have been confirmed across the country.

“The latest national and regional findings suggest products containing THC play a role in the outbreak,” the CDC said on its website.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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