E-cigs are growing more popular by the minute. Early research said e-cigs are safer than traditional cigarettes; however, the research is young.
“[E-cigs] are often advertised as safe constituents, but that’s not including what happens when you heat them because they chemically change. We are very concerned that kids who use e-cigarettes will move on to standard tobacco products over time. It’s a new way in,” smoking cessation expert Dr. Thomas Payne said.
Vaping is even more appealing to some children because it comes in different flavors like Apple Crack and Young Berry Crunch.
Charlotte Thomas owns Vapor’s Nest in Byram, Mississippi. She acknowledges that vaping liquid comes in kid-friendly flavors, but insists she follows the law. She said her business never sells to people under the age of 18.
“We never meant for this vaping thing to be cool. That’s not our strategy,” Thomas said. “We’re after the cigarette smokers.”
Some Mid-South school districts are seeing an increase in middle and high school students vaping on campuses.
Collierville schools noted an increase in students caught vaping. School leaders said the smoking ratio is about 60 percent cigarettes to 40 percent vaporizers.
Of course, smoking of any kind is against the rules.
If kids are caught vaping, the vapes are confiscated and returned to a parent.
In the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years at DeSoto County Schools, only three cases of students vaping have required disciplinary actions.
Consequences can result in an up to three-day suspension. A spokesperson for DeSoto County Schools said the low number of cases showed that students clearly understand the rules.
At Shelby County Schools, school leaders handled 34 cases of e-cigarette possession or use in the 2014-15 school year.
So far in the 2015-16 school year, there have been only nine cases.
Rankin County Assistant Superintendent Buddy Bailey said school districts are changing with the times to combat the new vape culture among teens.
Social media sites like Instagram and YouTube can serve as platforms for online vape-trick competitions and publicizing electronic cigarette use.
“We are looking at it closer because it is a new phenomenon that comes at us,” Bailey said. “Young people try new things. It is a suspendable offense. But our principals use discretion in whether it was a possession, use, or transmission of those devices.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, use of e-cigarettes by middle and high school students nearly tripled from 2013 to 2014, suggesting a “vape culture” among today’s young people.