Electronic cigarettes are all the rage with Lake Highlands teens, and it’s a habit that’s got some parents mad at an LH shop selling to students. Some teens I’ve talked to say they’re being “carded” (asked for identification and proof of age) at stores like Good Vapes, at Northwest Highway and Plano Road, but parents say their under-age kids are gaining access to the product, as well. E-cigs, just like real cigarettes, are intended for 18 and older.
Liquido24 website touts “vaping”, or inhaling vapors from e-cigarettes, as safer, healthier and cheaper than traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes are made up of atomizers, which heat and vaporize a flavored liquid using a battery for power. There is no tar, tobacco, carbon monoxide or ash. “Smokers” inhale flavored, nicotine-infused water vapor.
“Yeah, a few of my friends have the vaporizers,” one senior boy told me (he’d prefer not to be named). “I went with two guys to check out Good Vapes a few weeks ago. One of my friends bought one but got a canister without any nicotine in it, meaning all he’s actually smoking is vegetable oil and glycerol.
“They’re fun because of all of the flavors they come in (mostly fruits and desserts), and they’re healthier than smoking a tobacco pipe or a cigar, which many of us do.”
This young man said he believes Good Vapes sells only to 18 year olds, but he admits some of those make purchases for younger boys.
“It’s my understanding that the reason teens are picking up on this trend,” a different boy, a junior, told me, “ is because the product does not contain tobacco and is, therefore, not detrimental towards your health. What you are blowing out by smoking an E-Cig is simply water vapor, as opposed to regular cigarettes which contain carbon monoxide, the main instigator for lung cancer.”
Many parents aren’t buying it. Adults who smoke often use E-cigs to quit, they say, but kids may use E-cigs as a gateway to cigarettes – or worse.
“I have a son who says kids are smoking these things, not just outside the school, but inside the building as well,” said one man, willing only to be known as “A Concerned LH Dad.”
“The main concern here,” continued the junior boy, “is not that LHHS students are smoking the E-Cigs, but that they are putting themselves at risk of getting in trouble with the law if they are under the age of 18. It isn’t good that this man is selling to LH teenagers and putting them at risk of getting a ticket or a fine. That’s what the community needs to be made aware of.”
Another boy, he said, was punished at school when caught with E-cigs by the school cop.
The RISD policy, which includes LHHS, is quite clear, says Principal Peggy Dillon – no cigarettes of any kind on campus.
“Any student who possesses, uses, sells or gives to others tobacco products, matches or a lighter is in violation of the RISD student code of conduct,” she quoted from the rules. “That would also include electronic cigarettes. Any student caught, no matter what the age, is in violation of the policy and does receive consequences. All RISD campuses are smoke free.”
LHHS has only handled one incident with e-cigarettes this year, she added.
“The kids are buying these things from this store [Good Vapes],” said Concerned Dad. “According to their own website, this is intended for adults only. I know kids will find things anyway, but if we know about it, we can make it a little more difficult for them.”