Student Vaping: A Rising Addiction


Christopher Trejo, Sports Editor

High school students eagerly wait for teachers to turn their backs to vape. They hide in bathroom stalls to satisfy their want for a quick buzz. These teenagers hit their vape where ever they won’t get caught.

In what started as a subculture to cigarettes, cigars, and hookahs, e-cigarettes and vaping devices, such as juuls and SMOK vapes, vaping is growing into an enormous trend amongst high school teenagers all over the United States.

Senior Julia Meyer, while not being a vape user herself, has seen countless other students use these devices. “I see it everywhere in and out of school,” said Julia Meyer.

In recent years the amount of teens using vaporizing products has increased. But how did vaping suddenly become so popular? Why do so many teens partake in vaping?

Why Do Teens Do It?

Vape companies realize the potential to capitalize on teenage users and are making the most of it.

“I think they’re probably marketed toward kids it would seem. . . you know, a lotof the flavors and things are attractive to theyounger kids,” said William Meyer, Deputy Police Chief for the village of Gurnee.

Deputy Police Chief Meyer also credits the rise of vaping due to it’s easy concealment compared to other substances.

“I think depending on the products you’re using, you probably don’t smell it. . . I know there’s these covert devices now that don’t really look like [vapes].” said Deputy Police Chief Meyer.

Julia Meyer believes the popularity of vaping might be simply for appearance.

“I think [students] think it’s cool. . . people didn’t think [vaping] was that bad, so they could just do [vape] and look cool.” said Julia Meyer.

A current senior at Grayslake Central, who avidly vapes, claims that he got into vaping purely for entertainment purposes, but the constant intake of smoke lead to something much more dangerous.

“I enjoy doing vape tricks. It’s pretty fun, and I started off with a mod. But then slowly started using more and more nicotine and became addicted. And now it’s kind of an addiction I can’t break.” said anonymous male senior.

Another senior male at Grayslake Central states how his addiction started. “I started with tricks, and then you slowly and slowly start with nicotine and then youbecome a fiend. Once you start, you can’tget off”

For many, it begins as something fun, but then turns into a habit.

Anonymous source one admits to vaping in school to “Mainly to crave [his] addiction”.

It seems that teens start vaping because it’s an easier choice than most drugs and
it’s amusing, but after some time, they’ll continue vaping to fill their body’s desire for smoke.

But how do so many teens, many under the age 18 and in some states, 21, get their hands on vapes?

How Do Teens Get Vaping Devices and What’s The Cost?

Officer Meyer says that vaping paraphernalia most likely comes from someone they know who can get it. “If kids are buying it now, it’s probably through older kids” he said

The second anonymous student states it’s really simple for anyone of any age to get their hands on a vape device stating, “A lot of people sell [vapes], so it’s kind of easy to get it and like some stores don’t really lock it up”.

Even with the high availability of vapes for just about anyone that would want
one, the cost to upkeep such a habit is also expensive, especially for a teenager in high school.

“I usually pay around like 50 to 100 bucks. However, when I was using the Juul, it’s close, closer to 250 to 300 dollars a month”, says the first anonymous senior.

What are the different kinds of vaping products?

As stated by Ruthless Vapor, a company that specializes in selling E-Liquid, in their Beginner’s Guide: Different Types of Vapes Explained; vapes, unless changed or customized, have three main compo- nents;

The Battery, which is the source of energy for the device

The Atomizer/Coil, which heats up the liquid within the device

The E-Liquid, which can be a variety of liquids from oils, juices, and waxes. The E-Liquid, once vaporized is what creates the smoke once exhaled from the body and give the person the high/buzz they desire

Ruthless Vapor also explains that there are various kinds of vapes that can be categorized by generations because each group of devices has something similar with one another that previous iterations of vaporizers don’t have, something new that past vape devices have not had.

Vape Mods

Vape mods are called as such for their high customizability, and within this cate- gory, there is various subcategories, such as box mods, mechanical mods, etc. Mods are known to produce very large and puffy clouds, which many like for tricks and ap- pearance Vape mods are for experienced vapists that know the electrical systems and small circuitry of vape devices.

Vape Pens

Vape pens are characterized by its cylindrical shape, its use of different coils, and the pens’ ability to use cannabis concentrates and oils. Compared to vape mods,most variables in vape pens are fixed,meaning they don’t have to be tweaked. Pens are the recommended choice for beginners because of how user-friendly they are.


Cig-A-Likes are what they sound like, look a like cigarettes, with their main purpose being to stop the habit of smoking regular cigarettes. There are two types of Cig-A-Likes, those that are refillable and those that are disposable

Vape Pods

Vape Pods are the most rapidly growing type of vape in terms of popularity, the

pods are sleek, small, and thin, making them easily concealable and very easy to carry, and do not produce much smoke. Pods use cartridges as its liquid and uses salt nicotine, which means high nicotine strength, similar to smoking several ciga- rettes in one go.

What all of these vapes have in com-mon, unless specifically customized to not have, are the main chemical of the liquid being nicotine. So what negative consequences do vaporizers have on teenagers?

What’s The Risks of Vaping?

Banana, Mint, Strawberry, Mango -these flavors work great as smoothies, butbecome dangerous extracts when they’re aerosolized liquids mixed with dozens of other chemicals and substances not meant to become inhaled by the human body.

Officer Meyer tells about his knowl- edge on vaping risks. “It’s probably horrible for you. I know nicotine from studies and to show how bad it is, especially [for] younger kids, while your lungs and brain are still forming. That’s probably the worst time you could start something like this. . .they’ve got probably hundreds of other chemicals that we’re not even aware of at this point”.

Dr. Shwetha Gurram, a physician working with Penn State Health, informed PSU News that “E-cigarettes contain nicotine, an addictive substance that can negatively impact adolescent brain devel- opment. One Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes”.

While nicotine is the main chemical that makes up E-Juice, other unnatural substances exist in vape juices.

NBC News reported a study done by Dr. Mark Rubenstein, of UCSF’s Division of Adolescent Medicine, tested the urine and saliva of teenagers who regularlyvape, finding various other chemicals, such as Acrylonitrile, “a highly poisonous compound used widely in the manufacture of plastics, adhesives and synthetic rubber”, and Acrolein, which “is toxic to humans following inhalation, oral or dermal exposure”.

“I just think all those chemicals are very addicting and it makes the consumer keep buying their products”, said the second anonymous senior, moments before taking a hit of his vape pen.

While not a health risk, a safety concern involving vape devices is the odd occurrence of vaping devices exploding while in use, causing severe injury to the user.

According to a CNN report, a man in St. Petersburg, Florida, died after his E- Cigarette exploded due to overcharging the battery while in usage last May this year. Two years ago, ABC news posted a video inJanuary of 2016 of a vape mod catching firein a man’s pocket, causing second degree burns.

Vaping can cause an addiction to nicotine, leading to more and more use of those devices, but could vaping lead to other, more dangerous substances among teenagers?

Vapes, Are They Possibly a Gateway Drug?

The creation of electronic cigarettes was to help the millions of smokers of all ages quit smoking, but are vaping devices really serving their purpose, initially introduced as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, but vaping seems to be causing a problem of its own on young adults

There has been plenty of debate on whether vaping could possibly lead to teens abusing other, more potent substances. The liquids that go into the devices have proven to be unhealthy and addictive to the point where the Center for Disease Control has labeled vaporizers as “Tobacco Products”.

“Because e-cigarettes are perceived as less harmful and less dangerous than combustible cigarettes, another concern is that teens may be introduced to nicotine use via e-cigarettes,” Jessica Barrington said, a professor for Keck Medicine of USC. “In California, where smoking rates are among the lowest in the country, the increase in vaping, possibly followed by increases in smoking, could erode the prog- ress that has been made over the last several decades in tobacco control.”

Officer Meyer explained his thoughtswith a clear example. “I mean, you see it already with, you know, people using the vape devices to smoke cannabis and one or vape cannabis. So there it is, it certainly makes that easier.”

What’s Being Done About Teenage Vaping?

Teenage vaping has become a concernfor many adults, specifically school staff,parents, and police due to its addictive properties. Local police are doing their part to stop the dispersion of vaping paraphernalia amongst teens.

When possible, Police Deputy William Meyer will test stores to see if they will sell to underage kids. “My first handexperience is we participate in a kid’s camp, I am here where we go out and we do not only alcohol compliance checks, but we do the tobacco compliance checks in that now does include vaping, Gurnee, I can tell you, has updated their village ordinances, you know, in addition to state laws, but our village ordinances now also include vaping devices, but we go to any tobacco or vaping retailer in the village, we get underage kids that go with us, and they go in and they try to buy them and if they sell or issued citations, so we do I said, we’re proactive with all the retailers and again, it’s not about catching people. We try to educate, but if we do catch peo- ple sell them, we cite them for it”.

Why is Addressing Teenage Vaping Important?

The issue of vaping amid teenage culture has become a possible area of concern in terms of the future health of those who vape, and with how quickly it has grown in recent year, it’s only expected to get bigger.

While teens today are more reluctant to take up cigarettes than previous generations, the epidemic of teenagers engaging in everyday vaping is currently one of the greatest health concerns that young adults face.

If you need assistance, contact Grays- lake Central’s Student Assistance Program coordinator Kate Oldenburg at or call 847-986- 3371.