Strake Jesuit combats vaping

By Alex Buettgen ’22

In response to a national epidemic in underage vaping, Strake Jesuit has revised its policies to include more significant consequences in an effort to better ensure the safety and health of our students. 

E-cigarette use among high school students has skyrocketed from 1.5% in 2011 to 20% in 2018. Nicotine in e-cigarettes can cause heart disease, aortic aneurysms and peptic ulcers. Flavoring in e-cigarettes can contain diacetyl, which can be linked to lung disease. 

“Young people frequently are not aware of the levels of nicotine in e-cigarettes and its addictive effects. Vaping is a widespread problem in middle schools as well as high schools,” said Strake Jesuit Dean of Students, Dan Healey. 

Several years ago, one of the ways the school was aware that some students were vaping was the presence of empty vaping pods found around campus. Additionally, Strake Jesuit students concerned about their classmates’ addictions to vaping have brought the issue to Dean Healey’s attention. 

“Addicted students often make risky decisions, and in this way vaping frequently acts as a ‘gateway’ to other unhealthy and often illegal choices,” Dean Healey stated. 

When asked about the extensiveness of this problem at our school, Dean Healey said that he cannot know for certain because it is very hard to detect.

“Vaping is hard to detect because the devices are easy to conceal. Most students who vape do it in areas away from adult supervision, and also because there is not the strong smell of smoke associated with regular cigarettes,” Dean Healey explained.

In the past, use or possession of e-cigarettes during school hours or at school-sponsored activities had been treated the same as use of tobacco. However, in light of the ever increasing evidence of the dangers of vaping, the school leadership has re-categorized vaping, separating it from tobacco use and pairing it with drug use – which more closely aligns Strake Jesuit’s policy with how other schools are addressing vaping.

As a result, a Strake Jesuit student who possesses, uses, or distributes vaping paraphernalia is subject to serious disciplinary action, up to and including suspension or expulsion from the school.

At the same time, the school uses many resources — Academic & Personal counselors, faculty, coaches, moderators – to educate our students on the perils of vaping, encourage them, and enable them to make good, healthy decisions.

Dean Healey emphasized, “Our hope is for our students to know that we – as a community – want what is best for them and want to help lead them on the path to becoming good, Christian Men for Others.”