PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Teen Times on Friday sounded the alarm for parents and school officials about the sudden rise in vaping among young people on St. Maarten and in particular in schools. Coordinator of Teen Times Roosje Rommy-Richardson said most parents and “definitely most schools” have no clue about the growing trend of vaping, what it is, how it is hidden from them and how often students use this in school and in recreational times. She said it is dangerous and can lead to more serious substance addiction.
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by the heated nicotine liquid (often called “juice”) of an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette or e-cig), vape pen, or personal vaporizer. It’s also commonly called JUULing.
Rommy-Richardson said JUUL, a popular vape device that comes in fun flavors, looks like a flash drive and can be charged in a USB port, is especially concerning. JUUL delivers high levels of nicotine, making the product extremely addictive. “Most parents or school officials would look at it and think it’s a normal usb drive. It’s not. E-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine. The nicotine content of one JUULpod is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes,” she said.
Because of these high nicotine levels, vaping is extremely addictive — and teens are already more susceptible to addiction than adults because their brains are still developing, which makes them more likely to habituate to using drugs and alcohol. Addiction can impact the ability and while vaping initially increases a student’s alertness and attention, a decrease in attention span is soon followed and long term damage might be already done.
“Some young people might not like the fact that Teen Times is pointing this out, but we also have a responsibility to their wellbeing and have always stood against these kind of practices,” she said adding that since they leave little odor, e-cigarettes are particularly easy to hide and even use discreetly in public places, including school. Teens are also vaping marijuana at increasing rates, which brings its own health risks.
Rommy-Ricardson said that while parents need to educate themselves, the onus isn’t entirely on them. Schools, she said, must own this issue as well because some students actually sell e-cigs on school premises “and school officials are none the wiser because it is so well hidden and disguised. Everybody in authority over our teens daily must be vigilant and address vaping before it leads to more serious substance addiction by our youth. Do not allow this trend to trend.”