Vaping assembly questions industries


Mia Bonfiglio, Reporter

In light of the Illinois Youth Survey, taken by every student in the state, LT’s administration was concerned by the data collected, Assistant Principal Kris Costopoulos said. After finding that over half of juniors and seniors vape, administrators arranged for the Director of Addiction Services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, Aaron Weiner, to speak.

“A big part of this [assembly] is our behavioral data over the last two to three years,” Principal Brian Waterman said. “Vaping is something we have seen trickle up [in] about two years. That’s why we feel this assembly can be one part of our broader efforts to educate kids.”

Weiner took a new approach to the vaping crisis at the assembly that took place on Jan. 23 in the NC Field House, and focused on how industries target teens by marketing towards the more vulnerable youth. Their main goal is to make as much money as possible despite the immorality of it. These e-cigarettes contain many toxic substances and the vapor produced can cause DNA mutagenesis, leading to changes in genetic material that will eventually give way to cancer.

“A big part of this is that the big companies view teens as big dollar signs,” Weiner said. “A big part of this presentation is to show teens how these big companies are getting [teens] while they are young to keep as a customer for life.”

He also covered a recent study on the neuroatomic alterations in cannabis users. This means the brain does not grow properly after usage of marijuana, even if the usage is short or infrequent.

From the 2016-2017 school year to the 2017-2018 school year, LT had a 263% increase in vaping and a 66% increase in overall drug use.

“The numbers were very alarming to us,” Costopoulos said. “Students are potentially decreasing the quality of their lives.”

LT Administration has increased the consequences for vapers. The new rules require students to attend a one-hour vape education program twice. On the second offense, the student will be fined and receive a ticket from the Lagrange Police Department.

“We are concerned that when [students] start vaping at a young age, they will eventually graduate to more serious stuff,” Waterman said. “That is our biggest concern.”