The Feet Under The Bathroom Stall

Schools across America battle the vaping epidemic that has spread amongst teens

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Fiona Flynn

The school bathroom has become the primary safe place to get away with “hitting the nic.”

Fiona Flynn, Reporter

The harrowing truth of humanity is our susceptibility to addiction, whether it be a person, action, or substance. Out of the 7.735 billion people that live on this planet, all have been either directly or indirectly affected by this epidemic of dependency. Although many have overcome their fight against any reliance on any particular thing, many still struggle today. In today’s world, one of the biggest centers of this pollution can be found in teenagers, particularly with the substance nicotine. 

Some students at Liberty have stated that they’ve witnessed firsthand nicotine seeping through the student life, to a point where it has driven specific friend groups to form based around vaping.

“It has become a culture of abuse here. You can’t become friends with certain people unless you are vaping. This school has become very much split between people who use and people who don’t,” Sean Bruce, a senior, commented on how he has watched fellow classmates fall into specific dominions based on smoke circles. 

The media has emphasized the dangers of using nicotine ever since e-cigarettes were introduced into the economy in 2006, with the statement of helping individuals addicted to cigarettes quit. However, this has only popularized the idea of using nicotine amongst teenagers, by providing a less potent and a very discreet vapor, sold in a variety of flavors. 

The Wentzville School District has banned the possession or use of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices, though there has always been a struggle with tobacco products. In earlier years, before we as a society knew about the adverse effects of smoking, schools set up smoking areas allocated for students who used cigarettes. However, after years of studies, the legal age to purchase such products was moved to 18, and then in 2019, to 21. 

It is common knowledge that the bathrooms have turned into multipurpose stations amongst the student body, whether it is taking care of your personal business, or discreetly getting away with the next hit of nicotine behind a locked door. 

“In the last couple years, we haven’t seen the numbers of students that have been caught or in trouble for vaping. However, there are four principals and nearly 1,600 students at this point and we can’t be everywhere at one time,” Mr. Pryor, the assistant principal at Liberty for the past seven years, said. “When I first started here, there was a mix of traditional tobacco products (chewing tobacco and cigarettes). Vaping products had just started to become more prevalent at that time. Probably in years three through five, the vaping of juuls increased as it nationally became popular.” 

This widespread epidemic has stretched from coast to coast of the United States, infecting students of all grades, even dripping into the middle school student population. Although there is not much to do to prevent the spread of this popularized subcategory of smoking, we can educate on its malicious effects on the body. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out and save a life.