Vape is Life

Vape Is Life

*To protect the students interviewed for this article, fictional names have been created.

Meandering through a high school party there are a variety of smells. The familiar scent of a musty basement, the smell of beer lingering from the nearest flip cup game, the odor of the kid that forgot to put on deodorant before he left home, and a distinct fruity aroma that isn’t coming from a girl’s perfume. If you track down the smell, you’ll probably find a kid “blowing O’s” or “winding tornados” on a ping pong table.

According to Urban Dictionary, “Vaping [is] the process by which one inhales vapor from a personal vaporizer, or e-cig; used instead of ‘smoking’ to describe the action of someone sucking the business end of an e-cig instead of a death stick.”

In other words, a vape is an electronic cigarette that resembles the shape of a pen. When the button is pressed, the juice inside is heated, vaporized, and inhaled, stimulating the feeling of tobacco. The juice cartridges come in a variety of flavors and contain different levels of nicotine that make it easier for people with nicotine addictions to wean off of the drug. In order to vaporize the fluids, juices must be heated at high temperatures which can be monitored and adjusted by the user, and it’s these high voltages that are concerning and could cause potential health issues.

Researchers from Yale University of Medicine surveyed high school students to find that vape use has increased 13 percent, and vape juices aren’t the only things being inhaled.

“Vaping is particularly dangerous because of all of the different flavored fillers that can be put in them. They’re not regulated by the FDA so we don’t really know what is in them, it could be anything,” school nurse Leslie Perry said. “Not all of them contain nicotine, but they do contain chemicals.”

These fillers can also be substituted with oils that contain THC, (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. These potent oils create a stronger high when vaped than the user would obtain by smoking marijuana.

“There have been quite a lot of overdoses with the drug use and synthetic drug use by putting drugs into vapes,” Perry said. “People are unaware of what they are ingesting into their bodies.”

Despite the health risks that could be caused by vaping, students are unfazed.

“From a health standpoint, everyone says that vaping is safer [than cigarettes], but there is no actual determination of it,” Karen* (’17), a weekend vaper, said.

While vaping is becoming more popular amongst teens across the country, it is also becoming more prominent among students at Hereford.

Because vapes are associated with nicotine, customers must be 18 or older to purchase them, but that doesn’t stop some of the underage students who are able to acquire them with ease.

“They don’t card me, I look like I’m 35,” Albert* (’16), who buys his vaping supplies at 7/11, said.

Some students refer to older siblings and over 18 students, while others have a guy. But no matter how it’s purchased, vapes and vape equipment are an investment. A vape or electronic cigarette, an atomizer (the tank that holds the liquid), and a charger can usually be bought in a bundle that can range anywhere from $40 to $80. Juice cartridges are around $15.

“It’s probably $100 a month for me. I vape a lot,” Max* (’17) said.

Students are drawn to the many flavors of vape juice that are sold separately from the vape. Some flavors include raspberry, banana split, tobacco, apple martini, and even some cereal flavors.

“I don’t always vape, but when I do, I prefer rainbow sherbet,” Albert* said.

Many adults and professionals worry that vapes and their flavored juice cartridges are too appealing. Depending on the flavor, the smoke usually smells sweeter and doesn’t stick to clothing, which can make vaping easier to get away with for the underage smokers.

“It gets younger children interested. If you go to the 7-11 and see ice cream or cotton candy flavors, kids are going to say ‘oh that looks like fun, I want that!’,” Perry said.

Even some non-vapers have established a stereotype for those who do vape. Mia Navarro (’16) believes that vapers think highly of themselves and enjoy vaping above all else. “I picture someone who vapes to be wearing a flannel maybe, and they’re not really that concerned about school, they’re just really concerned about vaping,” Mia said.

“Vape is life” is a phrase that represents the dedication of vapers and the vaping community. Blake Vapes (@blakevapes), an Instagrammer with 87.3 thousand followers, is a strong advocate of the “vape is life” lifestyle which is reflected in his many videos. He assumes this lifestyle by vaping in a multitude of settings like in his bathtub, the middle of the desert, the College World Series, the ancient Mayan ruins, and a canoe in the sea. Blake Vapes claims to be “on top of the vape game” and despises those who hate on vapes.

“I feel like people who vape post a lot of pictures of them vaping. They vape in their car, they vape before school, they vape at a football game, vape is life for those people,” said Alyx Oakley (’16), an everyday witness of vaping.

Stuart* (’16), an everyday vaper, completely disagrees with the “vape is life” lifestyle.

“I think the concept is very overstated, it’s not actually as tight-knit of a community as people think it is,” he said.

For more information, visit the nurse’s office to find the bulletin board dedicated to vaping.