Slice of Life: Smoke, Fire, Vape

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

I guess it was only a matter of time before we would have to address this alarming health issue with our sixth graders. Although my students are still in an elementary school and not as exposed to older kids on a daily basis as many other districts, the larger cultural and social elements — good and bad — eventually trickle down to us. It’s often just a matter of when.

So, vaping.

In the past two weeks, we’ve had some informal information on the social grapevine of some of our students perhaps trying out vaping (or e-cigarettes), or experimenting with it, or whatever. I can’t say if any of it is true, and our school administration is working to get solid information so they can intervene if necessary.

When I asked my own son, who goes a 6-8 middle school in another district than the one I teach in, if students are vaping there, he didn’t even hesitate to say yes. By the lockers. On the bus. In the bathrooms. It was rather alarming how quick his response was.

I didn’t press too much except to remind him of dangerous vaping can be and how its potential for addiction for young people is incredible high. He later told me that a group of health officials from the schools came into every classroom at his school, to talk about the dangers of vaping.

At our school, our health staff is working on a response to the possibility of vaping, including a letter home and probably a forum with all sixth, and fifth, graders.

“I was hoping we had some time,” a nurse told me, when we chatted about vaping, explaining she is attending a session a few weeks where vaping response will come up. “But I guess not.”

Nope, and not with summer and free time for kids coming up around the corner.

Peace (keep it safe),

  1. This is so alarming, isn’t it? I teach fourth grade in a K-8 school, and you have me wondering what our middle school is doing to address this issue. I think I’ll ask around a bit today.

  2. Just as I was thinking that I’ve seen less cigarette smoking, and was happy about it…I hope the message gets through to the students. I distinctly remember dissecting lambs’ lungs in fifth or sixth grade, and seeing human lungs encased in hard plastic–one set healthy, the other blackened by years of smoking. The curriculum came straight from the American Lung Association. I went home and flushed my father’s cigarettes down the toilet. Never adopted the habit myself.

    • Scare tactics can work, if coupled with solid information about addiction and dangers. One of the worries is the high dose of nicotine (designed to help smokers stop smoking, so its origins are legit) and the adolescent brain development.

  3. We had to watch a video about this epidemic. Unbelievable. I was clueless. I’m glad your school health officials are taking it seriously.

  4. Thanks for the stats and the heads up. I have noticed more signs in public places that state… no vaping.. and wondered.

  5. Funny, I never imagined that kids might be vaping. Where has my head been? Now you have me wondering about the middle school where I teach. Do they talk to them about vaping. Do any kids vape? I am going to ask my students today, if they learn about this in health class.

  6. This is really scary. So alarming! Epidemic from what I hear. As critical as knowledge of dangers, etc. is, the bottom line is we must also make strong the fiber of their being so they can be strong in choosing “no.” Thanks for posting, Kevin.

  7. I am safely out of the realm of having to face such “talks” with my kids who are now 35 and 36. But we, too, had our moments. In those talks I expressed my sadness about their current flirtation with smoking, knowing how it would affect their lives and their health down the road. I took care not to sound judgmental. I guess that worked because neither of them is a smoker now. I am heartened to hear of your concern and your actions on behalf of kids who are to young to make the right choices. Bravo!

  8. This post is/should be a public service announcement. This is very scary. Thank you for being the voice/words of concern.

  9. I see it coming where I teach, too, and I appreciate your wise, low-key advice to ask around. One of history’s lessons: Education unlocks potential for positive impacts more often than prohibition; plus, open dialogue usually feels better than one-way directives.

  10. So alarming – and I’m embarrassed to say that I know next to nothing about it. Thanks for this informative slice – I’ll look into it for sure.

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