Vaping in Oklahoma Schools – Edmond Student and Parent Talk about Youth Vaping Epidemic

“I have friends that want to quit, but they can’t.
And that’s what tobacco companies want.”

Raevan Hanan, a junior at Edmond North, recently took time from her school schedule to head up to the Oklahoma Capitol. She wanted to speak with her elected officials about vaping, a threat to her health and the health of her peers. After her visit, she and her mother, Robin, took time to speak with about the situation at her school.

“We all know it’s against the rules to vape, and my school gives out tickets,” said Raevan. “But, students don’t care because their mom or dad will just pay it. So, the punishment isn’t really deterring them.”

Raevan is also concerned about the continued prevalence of vaping on campus, even with new laws designed to eliminate it.

“It’s still here. I know kids who are vaping a cartridge per day, which is an insane amount of nicotine that they’re putting in their bodies. I see videos on TikTok (social media app) that continue to glorify vaping and that lifestyle. And it’s sad because I know people who want to quit and just can’t.”

Illegal sales are also part of the problem.

“Last week, a Snapchat (social media app) was going around showing a (car) trunk filled with vape pods that someone was selling — and that’s after the T21 law went into effect. I also heard about a kid who would sell to people, but only if you got off the bus at his bus stop. That makes it almost impossible for the school to deal with since it’s off school property, but it’s happening, right here in Oklahoma.”

The problem isn’t just with the vaping either. All those vape pods become litter.

“Our parking lot at school is littered with discarded disposable vape devices like Happy Sticks and POP disposable pod devices.”

Raevan HananRaevan’s mother, Robin, had concerns about vaping, and the two have been talking about the dangers of vaping for a while. E-cigarettes and vapes lacked conclusive testing or regulation when released, and news about their impact on health and safety has been slow.

“Unhealthy options already surround us every day,” she said, “and when it comes to vaping, when your kid does it, it harms my child. I shouldn’t have to worry about it when my kid is at school.”

However, Robin acknowledges that teachers and schools are in a tough spot when it comes to the enforcement of rules against vaping.

“Teachers have told me that if they turn in one kid, but they don’t turn in another because they didn’t see it, they might get accused of bias,” she said. “So, the question becomes whether they’ll be backed up or not. That’s not a great place to be in.”

Raevan wants to see her peers eliminate vaping as an activity because of the addiction and the harm they can cause her.

“Vaping can harm my health,” she said. “By vaping around others you are not only putting yourself in a hazardous environment that could end your life, but you could contribute to the death of others.”

Raevan places the blame for this epidemic squarely on the shoulders of Big Tobacco.

“I have friends that want to quit, but they can’t. And that’s what tobacco companies want. They lure young people into a vicious cycle, but it ends in lung cancer, which is way more expensive when that happens. Now, they’ve found the next generation of that cycle, and kids are dying after a year, so it’s not even taking as long as we thought.”

Robin wants parents to start having discussions with their teens.

“Parents need to have these discussions right now and educate themselves,” she said. “Kids are charging their vapes in their school-issued Chromebooks right under their parents’ noses. And my child should never hear another kid say, ‘My parents get it for me.’ That’s unacceptable.”

To learn more about the youth vaping epidemic, get talking tips on youth vaping and downloadable resources, visit Protect Our Youth.

Published by Tobacco Stops With Me on March 24, 2020