As 2019 comes to a close, one of the most prominent phenomenons of the year that comes to mind is vaping.
Vaping has attracted plenty of attention in the past year, even causing President Trump to propose a ban on all flavored tobacco products. Since their launch, perceptions of products from companies like JUUL transitioned from a good alternative to cigarettes, to a national danger. Between discoveries of carcinogens and heavy metals within most, concerns surrounding the addictive devices are legitimate.
The staff of THE PAPER decided to look into the presence of vaping at Dana Hills.
To collect data, we created a 24 question survey. Staff members distributed this to a convenience sample of 344 students.
In total, 58.5% of those surveyed said they had not vaped, with only 20% of that population saying they had felt peer pressured to in the past. The majority of the abstaining students said health was the reason at 74.2%, and the negative stereotype associated with vaping was the second greatest at 44.5%.
Of the 132 students who said they had vaped in the past, 39.4% answered that they had started in the ninth grade and started vaping because of their friends.
JUUL was used by 80.3% of surveyed students who have tried vaping, followed by 60.6% using a Sourin and 58.3% using a Novo. Along with that, most of the 42.4% who own a device for vaping explained they received them from older friends or siblings. It became apparent that trying vaping at all makes one more likely to vape marijuana, with 71.7% of those who have vaped also trying marijuana.
However, frequencies show use is not typically consistent, with 69.6% of marijuana users trying it once or a handful of times and 53.3% of tobacco users trying it once or a handful of times. Only 42.4% own a device for tobacco and 34.4% own a device for marijuana. 65% of students that had tried vaping voiced that they quit, with majority calling health the reason, which is not overwhelmingly surprising given recent developments.
From the information gathered, we noticed a correlation between grade point averages and vaping history. Of those who felt inclined to give their GPA, 98 with a 4.0 or higher said they had not vaped and 30 with a 4.0 or higher said they had. Coincidently, 11 students with a 2.9 or below said they had not, and 22 students with a 2.9 or below said they had. Thus, the students with a higher GPA were less likely to vape.
Most students choosing to use vaping devices do so off campus, with 53.8% saying no to vaping either tobacco or marijuana on campus. Only 19.2% of all students surveyed have vaped either tobacco, marijuana or both while on campus.
The Administration’s Response
Administration has also taken note of Dana’s vaping issue. In an interview with principal Dr. Baker, he explained the first thing asked of him at his first Parent Teacher Association meeting in this position was “What are you going to do about vaping?”
While he didn’t have a solution at the time, Dr. Baker and his administrative team have developed a three part plan to diminish vaping at Dana, the first of which being education. Working with different groups like the P.T.A., who is hosting nights to educate parents and students, will be a major part of spreading the word about the dangers associated with vaping.
A group called Way Makers is also coming in to meet with Baker and explain their method of kids educating kids on ways to abstain. Not only does he want to focus on harmful effects but also how to say no or get over an addiction.
Plenty of students also may have noticed the signs in the bathroom sent by the American Lung Association. Baker was attracted by the humor of their use of puns because it leads them to see the facts too.
The next piece of Dr. Baker’s plan is strategy. Administrative team members and campus supervisors have begun entering a bathroom whenever nearby and then check in over the radio to note where they were and at what time, so they can tally how much vaping is encountered in the bathrooms.
Baker believes there’s been a noticeable change. He sees evidence of improvement in the smaller amount of groups hanging out and the fire alarm not sounding in about three months. “As a student you never know when they’ll be in there, so you’re more susceptible to being caught than in previous years,” Baker says on this new system.
Assistant principals Mrs. Casey and Miss Berg contributed to the effort by talking to the students who have been known to vape on campus about Dana’s population. Students with special needs can be set off for not only a day, but weeks at a time, so Baker “think[s] kids responded by empathy too. That was important to put in place.”
Vape detectors make up the technology portion of Baker’s plan. They not only detect vapors in the air, but also unusually loud noises. When the alarm is triggered, Dr. Baker and administration get a text message. If a detector goes off, administration can immediately look at their cameras to see who’s coming out of the bathrooms and speak with them. Detectors will be in all bathrooms by the end of break.
Dr. Baker stressed, “We’re not in it to shake down people and search everyone all the time. We just want to deter those who want to use on campus. We also want to educate those choosing to use on what the dangers are behind it.”
He also made it clear that both him and his team want to protect their students so they can use the restroom. Baker feels that “there’s nothing worse than needing to use the restroom, but feeling too intimidated to go in one. So [his] theory in this is that [he] want[s] to protect those who are making good decisions everyday.” Closing bathrooms or similar prevention tactics are seen by Baker and his team as solely punishment for the students making good decisions, and will be avoided.
Less than half of Dana Hills’ students have vaped, and 65% of this group quit. Taking this and Dr. Baker’s plan for a vaping decline into consideration, this school year should provide an informative baseline for the future.
Do you have any thoughts about vaping at Dana Hills?
Comment down below or visit the front page for more!