The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye February 2024 issue
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It’s possible to quit smoking/vaping

Commentary & Analysis
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©HAWKEYE image credit: Duyen Nguyen

According to drugabusestatistics.org,“2.08 million (8.33%) of 12-17 year olds nationwide have reported using drugs in the last month. Among those 2.08 million teens, 83.88% are using marijuana. 591,000 of those teenagers have used an illicit drug (other than marijuana) in the last month.” Why is this fact important? Well, among the 2 million teens, the chances are that you at least know one person who has or is doing drugs. Skipping class to go do drugs is more common than you would think: “Wanna skip? I have weed,” and other offers along the lines of that. Whether it’s during lunch, passing periods, or class, the usual designated spot to use those drugs is in the bathroom. The bathroom seems like the perfect place to be undetected as well as unsupervised, which is probably why students tend to vape more there than anywhere else in the school.

Vaping reached its peak in 2019 – 8.5 million people used the product. To an extent, vaping is less harmful than smoking because it doesn’t produce tar and carbon monoxide, which are the two most harmful elements in tobacco smoke. The vapor and liquid still contain potentially harmful chemicals like volatile organic compounds or flavorings such as diacetyl which is a chemical linked to lung disease, that are also found in cigarettes, but at a much lower level. Vapes and cigarettes both contain nicotine. Nicotine is harmful because it increases a person’s neurotransmitter dopamine, which is the brain’s control of the reward and pleasure system. Since it increases the neurotransmitter dopamine, it makes a person gain more pleasure in smoking/vaping because it makes them feel good. That causes someone to become more addicted to it.

There are many reasons a person starts smoking or vaping. Some people get pressured into it, some are under the influence of it, and some use it as a way to cope. Advertisers play an important role in making the product more interesting and “safer.” By using terms like “flavored air,” they pique the interests of young students who don’t know or understand the harm it can cause their body in the long run. Media takes advantage of people’s lack of knowledge towards the damages it can create. Flavors like “Strawberry Glorious Pie” and “Gummy Bear” definitely target younger people. The names and flavors catch kids’ eyes, causing them to have more desire in trying those flavors. I mean, who wouldn’t want to try gummy bear air? That just sounds intriguing.

When vapes came out, Juul representatives flagged it as “95% safer than cigarettes. People took interest in the product because they delivered nicotine through vapor instead of smoke, making those people get the idea that vapes were safer than cigarettes. Vape companies make their product more appealing so that people will give in and buy, even if they lie about the product.

Some people believe that smoking helps reduce their stress but in reality it reduces the need for nicotine. Although vaping and smoking are addictive, there are many benefits to quitting. Within just 20 minutes of quitting, the person’s blood pressure and pulse rate drop closer to normal. Each hour that goes by, after a person’s last cigarette, the greater health benefits they receive. Breathing becomes easier, chances of heart attacks decrease significantly, energy levels increase, and precancerous cells are replaced. Once you have the right motivation and support, anyone can quit a bad habit. How could you help someone to quit? First, make sure the person is ready and on board with it, then take it from there. Some strategies are to have a designated place to smoke, which limits the person’s smoking. Another great strategy is to always carry substitutes (gum, hard candy, toothpicks, etc). So when the person gets the urge to smoke or vape, they distract themselves by chewing gum or eating a hard candy. That makes them less likely to have the urge to smoke.

[While] under the influence, it can be hard to study and focus in class. It’s a distraction from being in class,” Anderburg said. Walking into class being high would definitely affect a student’s ability to work or pay attention. It might even cause them to fail in some classes which will then lead to redoing their grade the following year.”

— Lindsey Anderberg


The most common drug used among adolescents is alcohol. Just like vapes and cigarettes, alcohol produces dopamine. The consumption of alcohol activates the brain’s reward circuitry causing any alcohol-related thoughts to be paired with reward and pleasure. This makes a person crave it more – which then becomes addictive. The main causes of underage drinking are peer pressure, wanting to fit in, or plain and simple curiosity. Teens might be surrounded with people who drink, which could increase their chances of starting to drink themselves.

How does drug use affect the school?
“It exposes other students to harmful chemicals which might make other people uncomfortable,” Family Resources Advocate Lindsey Anderberg explains. People might not realize even though they’re the one smoking or vaping, the puffs of chemicals can get into other’s lungs by breathing it in. Even if someone isn’t in the bathroom at the time, the remnants of the chemicals are most likely still in the air, so either way the next person that goes to the bathroom is still breathing it in.

“[While] under the influence, it can be hard to study and focus in class. It’s a distraction from being in class,” Anderberg said. Walking into class being high would definitely affect a student’s ability to work or pay attention. It might even cause them to fail in some classes which will then lead to redoing their grade the following year.
“It can be dangerous; it makes for an unsafe campus,” Anderberg explained. If someone is high and they’re walking around campus, a fight could break out because you don’t really think in the moment when you’re high. Someone could say one wrong thing and that could lead to dangerous consequences.

These statistics show that the problem is too severe for only one person to manage alone, especially when it comes to quitting a behavior which might result in a lifelong addiction. Whether it’s vaping or smoking cigarettes in the bathroom at school, all of us need to be aware of some of the long term effects of these addictive usages of drugs. I hope that this information can help each person who knows someone participating in these activities, encouraging each friend and supporting them in any way to help eliminate these choices can be very beneficial to their lives. The main point of this article is to educate the reader on motivating their loved one or themselves to try to quit using drugs

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About the Contributor
Hannah Sevier, Hawkeye Staff
Hannah joined HSM in 2023 because she was interested in photographing for Hawkeye. Things she is interested in are sleeping, eating, baking/cooking, and photography. She hopes that she can take photos for Hawkeye.
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