* names have been changed to protect identity
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of vapes and e-cigarettes tripled from 2013 to 2014. Many East students, some under 18 and some above, have been drawn into the evolving vape culture as opposed to smoking cigarettes.
Unlike cigarettes, vapes don’t require a lighter, there is no clingy smell and they’re reusable. A vape is basically an electronic cigarette, but usually lasts longer and has adjustable juices and settings. Both can be activated by a push of a button. 17-year-old senior Hugo Smart* purchased his first vape for $25 a few months ago from “a place that obviously didn’t card kids.” Since then, Smart has upgraded to a $65 box vape and raised his nicotine level to .3 percent.
“It’s a quick buzz that feels really good on your throat, but you kind of form a dependency for it,” Smart said.
Sophomore Thomas Muller*, who began vaping in seventh grade, enjoys vaping without any nicotine content. Muller’s parents are aware he vapes, and condones it if there is no nicotine and no adverse effects.
“I’ve always thought cigarettes are really terrible,” Muller said. “They’ve never attracted me, but the act of smoking has. So vaping is like I’m smoking, but not, at the same time.”
Smart’s parents don’t approve of his nicotine use, but he still vapes at home because he knows his parents can’t detect the nicotine, which they don’t approve of.
“I vape after a long day at school or work,” Smart said. “Sometimes it’s nice to do it during homework.”
Muller and Smart feel that maintaining their vapes is cheaper and offers more variety than cigarettes. Muller was attracted to vapes by the assortment of flavors, and believes most new vapers are attracted for the same reason. He spends roughly $20 a month on e-juice.
“With my smaller vape, I had flavors like watermelon, blueberry, whatever,” Muller said. “With my nicer kind, I get more flavors. I’m vaping on this stuff which has a yogurty-fruit flavor.”
Though Muller and Smart primarily vape in solitude, they sometimes meet up to “hotbox” a car or room, which means to fill completely with vapor.
“We just get it so cloudy and hazy which gives such a relaxing vibe,” Smart said. “So [vaping] has a social aspect to it as well.”
Although Muller and Smart are calmed by vaping, the state of Kansas prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from buying or smoking e-cigarettes or vapes, regardless of the presence of nicotine. Yet, because of the rapidly advancing technology and appeal to kids, Smart believes that the vape culture at East will grow exponentially in years to come.