E-cigarettes are on the rise within the Godwin community, affecting the classroom.
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Traditional cigarette smoking may have been a popular trend in the past, but as soon as innovative products come into play, it is without a doubt that consumers will follow the new trend.

Today, e-cigarettes are some of the hottest items on the market, with a purpose of helping people who have quit smoking. However, that may not be the only reason to purchase one anymore, at least for many in the Godwin community.

E-cigarettes were originally meant for harm reduction, a strategy used to help reduce the amount of consequences after using drug-related products, such as tobacco.

The JUUL, one type of e-cigarette, has not only become a popular option at Godwin, but nationwide. Its simple design resembles one of a flash drive, easily deceiving someone who has never seen one.

Vaping, or smoking e-cigarettes, is somewhat similar to the use of a normal cigarette. When the user inhales through the device, they trigger the sensor inside to heat the flavored liquid pod, in this case a “JUULpod,” turning into vapor once it reaches the mouthpiece.

Vapor is then exhaled, which simulates smoke after inhaling it through a cigarette. Nothing in the process is burned though, unlike a normal cigarette.

Some question the benefits of the device, citing that it has as many carcinogens as a normal pack of cigarettes.

According to the JUUL website, one “JUULpod” is the equivalent to a pack of cigarettes, with five percent nicotine. Research suggests that such consumption of nicotine under the legal age may affect neurodevelopment among adolescents.

Others, such as the JUUL website, argue that it has little to no effect on any of the clientele. The JUUL website states that the ingredients are different than that of cigarettes, using a certain ingredient from the tobacco plant that provides the user with the “ultimate vaping experience.”

One cited benefit to e-cigarettes is the low, if existent, long-term health effects caused by them.

According to the Society for the Study of Addiction, in comparison to the health effects of cigarettes, the study considers vaping to be a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.

It is estimated that 11 out of every 100 high school students use e-cigarettes, while eight out of every 100 students smoke traditional cigarettes, a seven percent decrease from a 2011 study done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although one must be at least 18 years of age to purchase a JUUL, many young people have found ways around this law.

In a world of fabrication, it is simple to falsify one’s birthday and easily purchase the item through the Internet or in person at a gas station or convenience store.

Some reports even mention people JUUL devices to underage consumers, whether in private or at public places like school.

Here at Godwin, the use of e-cigarettes is on the rise, following other high schools nationwide. However, administration and teachers have recently been cracking down on students who violate the Henrico County code of conduct.

Godwin principal Leigh Dunavant said, “Teachers should report students who are in violation of the Code of Conduct to the administration.”

Henrico County strictly prohibits the use of any tobacco-related products on any campus, as state law mandates, and teachers and staff have been trained to recognize the JUUL.

The disciplinary action that will be taken is the “same as all other tobacco products – in-school suspension,” said Dunavant.

Senior Aleena Paczkoski has a moderate stance on the issue, stating that the JUUL can be “good and bad.”

“They can be bad because at times, it is addicting,” she said. “I haven’t seen it to be a distraction at all, though.”

Other students, however, seem to have a different stance on the ongoing issue.

Senior Hannah Lesniak said that although she hasn’t seen a student use it on campus, she has heard of students being caught using the JUUL while in class.

“I think they should keep it [the JUUL] at home because there is no need to bring it to school,” she said. “If you can’t wait to do it after school, that’s sad.”

English teacher Mary Mordica explained why she feels there is no benefit from using an e-cigarette.

“Cigarette producers target and capitalize on the natural curiosity and naïveté of youth, ultimately jeopardizing their health, in order to make a profit,” she said.

“I hope students who feel empowered by vaping soon realize they are being manipulated by big businesses. Because there is no long history of vaping, this generation is the guinea pig for long-term side effects.”

Mordica also mentioned hearing about students using the JUUL device on campus.

“I have never been aware of JUUL devices in my room, so I have not found them distracting, though I have heard stories about them being used on campus,” she said.

Whether this trend is here to stay or not, nationally, the use of e-cigarettes is on the rise and will continue to be significantly.

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