Effectiveness of the Vaping Assembly
By KATHRYN FERNANDOPULLE ‘21
Last week, class II students attended an assembly in Wigg where the athletic trainers discussed the negative aspects of vaping. For quite some time, our school administrators, faculty, and teachers have tried to convey the idea that “vaping is bad.” I appreciate the efforts to bring in speakers and plan assemblies devoted to making us happy and healthy kids; however, the way our teachers, and even our political leaders, go about these information sessions is often ineffective.
Mr. Fitz opened the assembly by asking us to take an anonymous survey with only two questions, the first being do you juul/vape and the second falling along the lines of are you concerned for someone you know who juuls/vapes? While I expected more students to answer “yes” to the first question, we as a class, voted about 65% yes to 35% no. The assembly wrapped up with a quick explanation from the athletic trainers on the consequences of juuling and vaping. But how effective was the assembly? How many people were really listening?
One Class II student found the presentation surprisingly ineffective considering the good intentions of the assembly administrators. He said “[he feels] like the people that haven’t tried [vaping or juuling] are smart enough and already know the health risks. [But the assembly acted] as a general reminder [to those who] want to try it in the future. The people who haven’t tried it won't try it, and the people who [already have] won’t stop because people have this...vision that bad things won't happen to them if it hasn’t already happened,” he states, and I agree. We must focus on breaking this illusion--the idea that if we’ve already tried it, vaping isn’t hurting us if we do not see the consequences-- rather than only focusing on preventing new users. The first step in breaking that dangerous belief could be giving us real life examples about students hurt by vaping could be. And we must work hard to break that belief or else teenagers will learn too late that they, despite popular belief, are not invincible.
On September 24th, Massachusetts banned the sale of vape products for the following four months. This decision feels like a shortcut; without an effective way to warn people about vaping, the government has just decided to temporarily shut it down. In order to reach youth successfully, I think connections must be made face-to-face. I understand that there is never a perfect way to capture the attention of 160 distracted students--I mean, after all, even our political leaders are still left grasping for answers -- but I think our community can be more effective at addressing this problem. We should have discussions with each other. We should talk to people who have been affected by vaping and juuling. Only by seeing the consequences in people like us will we be able to see the problems in our own actions.