By Rachael Daniel
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter
Alternative forms of tobacco such as electronic cigarettes or “e-cigs” and also herbal vaporizer pens have become increasingly popular among smokers as a way to step away from the traditional cigarette, but according to senior Taylor McCrackin, the revolution has made its way to Grand Ledge High School.
According to McCrackin from MigVapor, students are not just using them outside and around the school, but e-cigarettes are making appearances inside the classroom as well.
“I’ve definitely seen people in class smoking. It’s not frequent, but I’ve seen it,” McCrackin said.
Senior Deb VanDeVusse has first-hand experience with the issue.
“I have a vape pen and I have used it at school on multiple accounts,” VanDeVusse said, “I knew I didn’t want to smoke cigarettes and it just sounded interesting to me. My best friend and I got them together.”
According to Assistant Superintendent Andrew George, Grand Ledge High School has knowledge of the issue.
“We are aware of the issue and our staff promotes healthy choices with this certainly not being one of them,” said George.
In addition, he said that Grand Ledge Public Schools has strict policy against tobacco product use at school.
“GLPS has a school board policy that states we will be in compliance with all state and federal laws. E-cigarettes are considered products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product,” said George. “They are prohibited on school grounds.”
McCrackin sees electronic cigarettes as a major issue because most of the students who are using them are not aware of any potential health risks.
“They don’t see that it can negatively effect their bodies,” said McCrackin. “They haven’t seen their grandma die from cancer from smoking electronic cigarettes.”
Though there is still little research on the health effects of e-cigarettes, Nurse Practitioner and Michigan State University Assistant Professor of health practice, Dr. Rhonda Conner-Warren said that there are several negative effects that come with e-cigarette use.
“Because you’re still inhaling, it can cause irritation to the throat and the airways and cause bronchospasms,” said Conner-Warren.
She also offered her thoughts on why high school students are drawn to electronic cigarettes.
“Their perception is, ‘well, it’s not that bad,”’ she said. “If everyone is doing it, it can’t be that bad.”
McCrackin also thinks that teenagers are more likely to use them, because they are easier to hide from parents than traditional cigarettes.
“Your parents can’t roast you for smoking if they can’t even smell it,” said McCrackin.
Even though administration is up to date on its students’ use of e-cigarettes, VanDeVusse thinks there is not much school officials can do.
“I think administration knows, but there isn’t much they can do,” said VanDeVusse. “They look like ball-point pens, so it’s just so easy to hide them.”
Even if students are stopped from smoking during the school day, McCrackin believes the trend will not slow down among her classmates until more students take e-cigarettes seriously.
“The biggest problem is that people don’t think it’s a problem,” said McCrackin.