Effects of Vaping/Smoking at WRHS

Here at Wheat Ridge, and many other places here in the United States, kids struggle with teen smoking and the early effects of it as well. This article is just about the effects on adolescents and the mental thinking behind smoking.

Early exposure to nicotine can have long-lasting effects on an adolescent brain and its development. Cigarette smoking causes teens to be short of breath and have less stamina, both of which can affect a person’s participation in sports and other athletic events, reduced lung growth, and/or cardiovascular damage. 

Other studies show that kids who smoke tend to get sick with colds, cases of flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia more than non-smokers. Most chemicals in cigarettes, like nicotine and cyanide, are poisons that can kill in large doses. 

Other problems not everyone knows are gum diseases, yellow teeth, eye disease, increased risk of infections like pneumonia, greater risk of diabetes, weaker bones that can break easier, skin problems like psoriasis, wrinkled skin, and ulcers. It can also affect sexual health in both men and women. Women and girls who smoke and are on other hormones like birth control have a higher risk of getting serious health conditions like strokes or heart attacks, and if a woman is or wants to get pregnant, smoking can make that harder. Other things that can happen quicker to teen smokers can be bad breath, bad-smelling clothes and hair, greater risk of most injury, and slower healing time. 

Here are some statistics that can help you visualize.  

In 2022-

  • 14 of every 100 men smoke.
  • 11 of every 100 women smoke.
  • About 4 of every 100 middle school student smoke.
  • About 6 of every 100 high school students smoke.
  • More than 3 million students (Middle & High) report current use.

And about 1 of 3 high school students have stated they have tried some kind of smoking product, and another report there may be a “higher volume of exposure to tobacco promotion and advertising” and higher tobacco density in racial and ethnic communities.

A security guard John Dowd at Wheat Ridge High School said vaping is a problem at the Farm. “Vaping is an epidemic at this school. Probably at most every high school, not just here. But it’s really bad here. The first time you’re caught they just take the item, the second time ISS, third time they have to go to the school nurse and take a class,” he said.

Assistant principal Jen Marquez agreed to an interview on the topic of smoking and vaping.  

Q: Do you think smoking and vaping is a problem?
A: I think that teenagers who vape in school the numbers have increased, so yes I think it’s a problem for our students who feel like they need a substance in order to get through the day.
Q: Do we have programs at our school to help students quit these addictions??

A: So yes, we have our school nurse who deals with students who are caught with vapes and does some work around talking through the dangers and side effects and what happens to your body, so we have a program if you get caught, but we don’t necessarily, we don’t have a prevention program, so I think health class covers it, they probably cover it in biology but not a specific something.
Q: Are students who are caught smoking or vaping punished??
A: That also depends on some certain things. So, the first time a student gets caught with it, it’s an automatic referral to the school nurse, then detention and the school calls home, sometimes depending on the situation it may be in-school suspension or out-of-school suspension, and then it also depends on the number of time students are caught.
Q: How many students on average do you catch in bathrooms?
A: I would say on average 2-3 a week. We can’t just pull students out of the bathroom and search them under suspicion unless we have to have a reason. I would say majority is because they have it in their hand when we go in the bathrooms and sweep for tardies.
Q: How many would you think you would catch if you could search under suspicion?
A: Probably 2-3 students a day. I think that if I had to search everyone, there probably might be a lot more vapes than what we catch.
Q: What grade do you think is more of a problem?
A: I think freshmen definitely, followed by seniors.
Q: What would you do if a teacher is caught vaping on campus?
A: So it’s not legal for staff or students to have tobacco on property. I mean vaping has two different meanings right? So it’s either marijuana or tobacco we catch mostly tobacco.

The simple psychology of teen smokers is simple. Most use it as an escape. “Nicotine has an immediate sense of relaxation, so people smoke in the belief it relieves stress and anxiety.” This feeling of euphoria is temporary, so it leaves smokers longing for relief and a better feeling and so it becomes an addiction. Smoking reduces withdrawal symptoms but actually does not rid stress, anxiety, or other similar things.

If you do smoke or vape and want to quit here are some online support websites here-

cdc.gov , cancer.org  , smokefree.gov.