Crackdowns on Youth Vaping

MA Bans Sale of Vapes, CRLS Locks Bathrooms


Lara Garay

Massachusetts has passed a temporary ban on the sale of some vapes.

Andrew Mello, News Editor

All across America, the epidemic of teen vaping has reached a fever pitch, and as confirmed deaths attributed to this “safe alternative” rises to seventeen, actions are finally being taken, such as a temporary ban on select vaping products here in Massachusetts. Still, faculty in schools everywhere continue to catch students puffing on minty and fruit flavors, calling into question the safety of such products as well as the customer base. However, as this “war on vaping” is being fought, an unexpected battleground has emerged at CRLS and high schools everywhere: bathrooms.

When cigarettes were invented, they were glamourized— even doctors smoked.

— David Figueroa

 Rallying and activism around the issue has recently been aimed at the removal of Juul and similar vaping products from the market, with a push against products with ‘candy’ flavors like mango or mint specifically targeted at young consumers. According to the CDC, “a single Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.” These facts becomes more frightening after hearing testimony from those sent to the hospital for vaping. Publications such as Forbes wrote of teens who maintained a steady “two pod a day” habit. David Figueroa, an English Language Learners teacher at CRLS, thinks history shows the danger in making vaping look cool. “When cigarettes were invented, they were glamourized—even doctors smoked,” said Figueroa. 

To combat the masses of students using the bathrooms as designated vaping areas, the CRLS administration has chosen to selectively shut down specific bathrooms, which are viewed as hotspots for such activity. Around school, students scramble to the nearest unlocked restroom, even if it is several floors away from their classes. Owen Fowler ‘20 finds flaws in the plan. “Locked bathrooms don’t stop [people] from Juuling, it just means [people] have to go further to Juul and miss more class in the end.” Limiting the amount of free bathrooms doesn’t seem to discourage the underage users, who might feel they depend on a bathroom vape session to make it to the next period.

If it wasn’t cool, they wouldn’t do it.

— Deb Milligan

Photography Teacher Deborah Milligan proposes a different solution to teen vaping: providing a way to let kids quit independently by learning the detrements themselves. “There’s been X-Blocks on everything but vaping, and it’s important to educate students and teachers on just what it is.” Milligan, who herself had a grandson caught vaping, still doesn’t condemn the school security’s choice to shut down bathrooms, admitting, “They’re shutting down the bathrooms because they don’t know what else they can do. What other options are there?” “There’s a stigma between students against cigarettes, but none in regards to vaping.” She continues, “If kids came out and sort of policed themselves, telling each other; ‘you shouldn’t do that it’s bad for you.’ They need to take away the part of it being cool. If it wasn’t cool, they wouldn’t do it.” 

This piece also appears in our October 2019 print edition