If you’re the parent to a teenager or even a child of grade-school age, you might have received a notice or two sent home with your kid warning you about the dangers of vaping.
Vaping, a verb used to describe the inhalation of nicotine using a relatively new device called an e-cigarette, has apparently become the rebellious act of choice for Generation Z.
Juul, the company leading the market today, is taking most of the blame for the tobacco product’s appeal to youth. Juul’s “e-cig” looks a lot like a USB thumb drive and some variations include little flashing lights. Coupled with appealing flavours such as cucumber, vanilla, and mango, the U.S. company has attracted criticism for the demand its attracted from minors.
In an attempt to get a handle on the fad, one North Vancouver school has limited access to washrooms.
“All student bathrooms, except those on the main floor by the gymnasium and the Gender-Neutral Bathroom by the office, will be locked until further notice,” reads a November 29 memo distributed by Seycove Secondary and first reported by the Vancouver Sun.
“The PE Locker rooms will be locked at all times except at the beginning and end of class for changing,” it continues. “Staff have been asked to restrict the number of students being out of class during class time and monitor the amount of time they are away.”
The memo describes vaping as posing “immediate health risks”.
“The bottom line is that Vaping is having a significant negative impact on our community and our learning environment and it is illegal for all of the students in this building for a reason,” the memo concludes.
E-cigarettes are different from traditional cigarettes in that they do not involve the inhalation of materials that were burned with fire. An e-cigarette heats a liquid inside the device to a high temperature and that vapour is then inhaled by the user in isolation.
Companies like Juul argue that vaping is a progressive alternative to traditional cigarettes that offer fewer negative health consequences. Some companies are marketing e-cigarettes as an effective tool that can help one quite smoking altogether. Critics of the device maintain there is little known about the long-term side effects of vaping and that any inhalation of chemicals can’t be great for one’s lungs.
In B.C., vaping is banned from all school properties.
“All public and private kindergarten to Grade 12 schools in B.C. are tobacco and vape-free under the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act and Regulation,” reads a provincial-government website.
“This ban extends to all school property 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of whether or not school is in session. The ban also includes vehicles, parking lots, sports fields, driveways, courtyards, and private vehicles parked on school property.”
In the U.S., where Juul and other companies have marketed their products more aggressively than in Canada, Congress has recently signalled it intends to crack down on the e-cig market and its alleged efforts to appeal to minors.
“The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday declared that teenage use of electronic cigarettes has reached ‘an epidemic proportion,’ and it put makers of the most popular devices on notice that they have just 60 days to prove they can keep their devices away from minors,” reads a September 2018 article in the New York Times.
The city of Vancouver used bylaws to group vaping and e-cig devices in with the smoking of tobacco several years earlier.