Melanie Eszter and Erin McCarthy

Many of the names of sources have been changed to protect the identity of the students

The Cotton candy smell filled the bathroom again, most students are aware of what the smell indicates. This meant that a student was “vaping” in the bathroom again.

“We actually like to have physical evidence, if I have someone that looks like their smoking but I don’t have anything to prove otherwise I’m probably not going to go with it,” Erik Clark Olathe East Student Resource Officer said. Those that pursue vaping, using water vapor as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, each have their own reasons for choosing to partake in this trend.

“I just started for fun and I was using zero nicotine juice,” Senior Parker Davey said. Davey, like many began without smoking nicotine and then gradually began to include it into his vape routine and now uses a level of six nicotine with his fix. Although he frequently vapes, he states that he is not addicted to vaping.

“For me it’s more like I keep it in my car, if I’m driving somewhere I am going to vape. I don’t really need it or have a schedule for it,” Davey said. Recreational vaping has taken the place of smoking cigarettes for a number of high school students. Some students who used to smoke cigarettes have now switched to vaping. One of the most lightweight vape pens on the market now is called a Juul and tending to be popular among high schoolers because of its appearance. Juuls look like a longer version of a flash drive, which makes it less likely to raise suspicion in adults.

“I have a Juul, and I do nicotine for the buzz which is really addictive,” Senior Kyle Graham (not real name) said. Graham mentioned that he used to smoke cigarettes but he was not a fan of the smell and how harsh they were on his lungs so he made the switch to vaping. He started consistently vaping junior year and now vapes a level of 50 nicotine. The vape that he uses cost around $50 however, the pods he uses to replenish the Juul cost him about 20-30 dollars which he spends weekly to fuel his addiction.  Graham explained that he smokes a pod a day and in each pod there is about the equivalent to one full pack of cigarettes. Graham has admitted to being addicted, saying that he vapes when he wakes up and sometimes on the way to school and occasionally while at school.

“At this point it’s like I’m addicted to what’s in my mouth and in my lungs,” Graham said.

Graham also pointed out that many of his friends vape and they often share vapes when they hang out together. Although he regrets choosing to vape and that if he would have a chance to go back and choose to not vape, he would. He advises that those who do not vape but are wanting to should not buy their own, but use from their friends if they must vape.

“It controls my schedules sometimes, because you are like, ‘when can I go and get a buzz’,” Graham said.

Of those OE students who vape, some began their habit as early as seventh grade while others began junior or senior year. The amount that these vapers have spent on vape can range from $150-$1500 so far. Students have also gotten their vape pens stolen at parties or had them thrown away by parents or school administration. Most of those that were interviewed enjoy vaping because of the “tricks” that they can make with the vapor or because of flavors such as Razzle Berry Ring Pop or Gummy Worm.

“I can’t smoke weed; I use that as a replacement,” Senior Jen Smith (not real name) said.

Of the seniors interviewed, about half say that they purchase their vape materials online.

“EBay especially doesn’t ID,” Senior Cale Johnson (not real name) said. For those that do not go to a different city to purchase vape or purchase it online, underage students specifically turn to those who are 18 to buy their supplies for them.

“For me it’s causal, if somebody wants something bought for them and they like give me money just for the thing and I’m going anyways, it’s like ‘alright I’ll get it’,” Senior Chris Lewis (not real name) said. Although there are those under the age of 18 that try to purchase vape in other cities. Willie, a current employee at Vapor World in Shawnee talked to the Olathe East Hawks Eye.

“We card anyone who looks under the age of 26 and we see underage kids trying to buy at least once a week,” Willie said.

Vapor World or any vape shop for that matter must by law, put nicotine warnings on the juice because it may contain nicotine. He also mentioned that the average age of customers they see at their store in Shawnee is 18-20 because it is legal for 18-year-olds to buy vape. Although he does advise against the use of vape or cigarettes if at all possible.

“You should know that if you are not vaping or smoking it is better to not get started because you could easily get addicted to nicotine,” Willie said.

While few students vape during school hours, administrators are aware and take precautions to enforce punishments for those caught vaping or smoking on school property as they will be given a citation from the Student Resource Officer and will receive administrative punishment be it ISS or OSS. Now if they are 18, while it is legal to possess nicotine at 18 they still may not smoke it on school property. I caught they will not be receiving legal punishment but they will still receive the punishment for smoking on school grounds. Precautions are taken by the administrative staff to ensure that students who vape anywhere in the building are caught and given consequences.

“We have staff that walk around that are supposed to go in and check the bathrooms periodically not just for vapes but are people smoking marijuana, are they fighting, or are they doing anything inappropriate, things like that,” Erik Clark Olathe East SRO. said.

Teachers also may inform the SRO and or the administration if they witness a student vaping or smoking in their car, which is considered to be on school property once they enter the parking lot. Then the administration, at that point can pull the student in for questioning and search them. They could also check the cameras to look for physical evidence.

Consider vaping safe are not scientists are still not 100% sure of what chemicals are being ingested while vaping and what effects it can have on the human heart, mind, and body. Although according to current research a flavoring chemical, diacetyl, found in most vaping products has been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans. This causes scarring in the bronchioles and can leave you with shortness of breath, cough, and other respiratory problems.


“So yeah they say it’s safer but is it really?” Clark said.


Melanie Eszter // Managing Editor

Erin McCarthy // Social Media Chair