In 2003, pharmacist, inventor Hon Lik from Beijing, China created a battery operated cigarette, commercially coined the e-cigarette. An e-cigarette is a electronic device that simulates the feeling of smoking a cigarette by generating a vapor called aerosol. The usage of e-cigarettes by adolescents has risen by 1,500 percent in the last three years. When kids and teens use e-cigarettes, their brain development slows down. Although e-cigarettes can appear much safer since they do not produce the tar or the toxic gases found in cigarettes, there are still many different chemicals that have proven to be detrimental. E-cigarettes expose the lungs to new and sometimes dangerous chemicals like cadmium, a toxic metal that causes damage to the lungs, bones, and kidneys. E-cigarettes also create mood fluctuations and lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Even though e-cigarettes might be a big improvement from tobacco cigarettes, they are still dangerous to the body.
With the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, it is important to note that not even Pinewood is completely exempt from. “It is true that Pinewood has much less e-cigarette use than other schools. In general, [the use of vaporizers] is about half of the national average, which is somewhere near ten percent,” Principal Gabriel Lemmon said.
This January, a speaker from Freedom of Chemical Dependency (F.C.D.), a nonprofit organization which aims to diminish substance abuse in schools, visited Pinewood to talk about the use of potentially harmful substances. One of the more significant ideas the assembly established was that e-cigarettes are not any less harmful than regular cigarettes, and in fact, could be much more harmful.
“Here at Pinewood, awareness is now growing about how dangerous they are, and hopefully, these mistakes will be prevented in the future,” sophomore Sam King said.
“Teenagers will always face peer pressure to do things, whether they be healthy or unhealthy, especially when it comes to e-cigarettes,” Lemmon said. He explained, though, that the nature of the small community at Pinewood is one of the contributing causes for the significantly lower use of vaporizers.
“Our students really support and look after each other. If one of them is making decisions that are not so good, others encourage them to make better decisions,” Lemmon said.
“I know e-cigarettes will continue to be present at Pinewood,” Lemmon said, “But it’s good to know that things are looking up.”
“The real key thing is that our community is really healthy in terms of decision-making,” Lemmon said. Therefore, with already established student morals, any proposed solutions must be concise and impactful.