Does Westside have a vaping problem?


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Woman smoking electronic cigarette outdoor

 In Texas you have to be twenty one to walk into a store and purchase vaping products and paraphenalia. So how are Westside students getting their hands on vape pens and puff bars. How and why? It’s not uncommon to find students vaping or hitting disposables. Westside has never been immune to students using unhealthy substances, but what has caused a spike during the 2021-22 school year? Peer pressure? Stress? Having to grow up in the social media age, not to mention a year and a half of virtual school and isolation. Hard to know the difference between real and virtual. 

As vapes and marijuana become more easily accessible, teenagers look for ways to buy and abuse them. According to , between 2017 – 2020, the percentage of 10th graders who smoke marijuana daily rose from 2.9 percent to 4.4 percent. While the percentage of teenages who have tried vaping nicotine in their lifetime, has excalated as well. The latest statistic shows 41 % of American teenagers have at some point tried vaping.

What attributes to the rise in usage?

Peer pressure, cool points, experimentation, do doubt lead the way. But teenagers struggling to cope and find their way during the long pandemic isolation has to be a key factor. Accessability ranks high. Online sales and annonymous deliveries can easily put a vape pen in the hands of minors. For this story, we did a google search for vape shops in Houston, found many, chose one located in the Uptown area. First screen was a question; “Are you 18 or over?”. Anybody can answer yes. Virtual school allowed students hours of unsupervied activity, and phone scrolling. Click on one vape product, even out of curiosity, and google analytics will send you more and more.

Several Westside students, who wish to remain annonymous weighed in on durg usage within their friend circle.

Question: What caused you to pick up the vaping?

Answer: “All my friends tried it, so I tried it too.”

Answer: “I went to a party.”

Answer: “Being high helps me feel better about myself and my life. I just wanted to.”

Should Westside become more involved with student drug use?

Students tell you no. They don’t want anybody involved in their private business, especially teachers and deans. But at what point does  individual drug usage on campus, and in the restrooms cross the line between an individual problem and overall campus safety?