Many consider e-cigarettes a safer alternative for those trying to stop smoking.
But for teenagers, vaping can become a pathway to getting hooked on nicotine, cigarettes and ultimately something more dangerous.
Adults often use vaping as an option to break away from cigarettes.
“I haven’t picked up a cigarette in over a year. So I’m very proud of that,” said Rory Niquette. “Vaping is really a fix for me.”
It’s done with electronic cigarettes. Nicotine-infused liquid is heated into a vapor and is inhaled by the user.
Dr. Gifford Lorenz with Southeast Lung Associates says one of the biggest issues with vaping for teenagers is not knowing what’s in the product or its side effects.
“It’s nicotine, and some sort of preservative,” Dr. Lorenz said. “Some people are concerned about this condition called popcorn lung you may have heard about – they get inflammation that may or may not be reversible.”
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied middle and high school students over a period of 5 years. They found cigarette smoking among teenagers dropped by half between 2011 and 2016.
But among the same group, e-cigarette use went up.
“I guess it is enjoyable after a long day and you haven’t done it for a while it just calms you down for a bit,” said Niquette, who just turned 19.
For young adults and teenagers, vaping is a hot topic of conversation on social media.
It has spread to schools across the country — and right here in Savannah.
News 3 visited Benedictine Military School to speak with Principal Jacob Horne. He says a vaping device called a Juul is a new craze among teenagers.
It’s about half the size of a computer flash drive and easily conceals exhaled smoke.
“There’s a difference in what you see and what you don’t see,” said Horne. “And it was my concern as principal to make sure that myself, my faculty, my parents were all aware of this device.
Benedictine parent Brian Huskey knows the dangers of Juuling firsthand. His son Connor was suspended from school after he was caught Juuling in band class
“This is a kid who has never been in trouble. He was a stellar student from a behavior standpoint,” said Huskey. “His grades went from A & B’s to mostly C’s. He’d lost all concentration on participating in soccer and some of the other things he used to enjoy.”
Huskey said he had to dispose of several of the e-cigarettes – even attempting to physically break some of them.
But the worst was yet to come. Connor’s Juuling was a gateway to something much more dangerous.
“He had an incident at a school retreat which required us to withdraw him from school where he kind of overdosed on the Magic Puff,” Huskey explained.
Users describe Magic Puff as a “super high” because of what is in it – synthetic cannabinoids.
“If you ingest the entire thing it can be extremely dangerous,” Huskey said. “So we’re happy that he’s still with us, but the biggest fear is losing your child.”
Connor would have graduated this year, but instead he was sent to rehab.
“My goal was to micromanage him for 5 months so he could at least graduate from high school. That didn’t happen,” said Huskey. “Luckily he didn’t get arrested, luckily he didn’t die.”
In Georgia, you must be 18 or older to buy vaping devices. And after recent criticism of targeting teens, some online stores have increased their purchase age to 21 and older.
But it’s important to note that while vaping products are sold over the counter, there is no clear research that shows the harm vaping can cause to your body.
It’s important to note–while vaping products are sold over the counter there’s no clear research that shows the harm vaping can cause to your body. Vaping can be found in schools across the country.
In fact, some students in Savannah -Chatham Public Schools who did not want to go on camera tells News 3 vaping happens in schools here.
When I contacted school leaders I was told —
“Since this is a violation handled administratively at the school level campus police does not have records on the number of vaping incidents there have been at our schools.
They do say they haven’t heard of a large number of complaints about it.”
We’re told information about vaping will be specifically outlined in the 2018-2019 Code of Conduct.