My name is Sid Thakker and I’m a rising senior at James Madison High School. Throughout my high school life, I've seen e-cigarettes really develop. So, from ninth grade, it wasn't that big of an issue, but as I moved on to 10th and 11th grade, the issue became rampant. Many kids were caught with vapes, with using an e-cigarette. The incidence rates almost went up to 25 percent. So, one in every four students were using one. And this was really concerning for me and my principal. From 10th grade to 11th grade, we saw e-cigarette detectors in bathrooms. We saw security patrolling the hallways to making sure kids weren't skipping class and using the bathrooms to vape in. And so, we really saw how this problem became not just an issue for kids, but an issue for school security. That dopamine is the main chemical that makes you hooked onto the substance. It gives you that high, is what’s makes it addictive. My non-profit or NicRreport has really strived to create a curriculum that's not just inclusive on the factors of e-cigarettes and why it's such a big problem, but we really hope to teach students ways to say ‘no’ to using these e-cigarettes. One problem we really face is that kids often don't want to be using them but are often peer pressured into using them. So, the curriculum we developed for health class was really used to help educate students on the social dangers that are around it and the emotional factors around it. And we also created another curriculum in biology class. And here we really wanted to focus on educating students on the dangers of e-cigarettes internally. We focused on how e-cigarettes affect cells, how they affect our organelles. In total, we've been able to impact over 3,000 students and teachers. If I'm able to get successful results within the …. We had a chance to talk to over 100 parents on exactly what I'm doing at our school and why this is such a big issue.
One student that I was talking with, he was a really big athlete at our school. And after learning about the side effects of vaping on lung capacity and how much air actually runs through his lungs, he was really shocked to see. And it really persuaded him not to be using the device anymore. Now we’re planning on actually moving to a couple other high schools. Sid's efforts at educating his fellow classmates and young people everywhere about the dangers of vaping is going to be critical to stopping this epidemic. There is a perception that it is “safer” than conventional cigarettes and conventional tobacco products even though we don't really know that. The rapid uptake is probably a product of very sophisticated and careful marketing. It is marketed as safer. It is marketed as a good way to help quitting smoking. From a lung standpoint or a pulmonary standpoint, there had been up to 2,000 cases reported of what is termed vaping-induced lung disease, where a user suddenly gets a severe lung injury. The ongoing use of cigarettes, probably combined with these other products, causes continual damage to the cardiovascular system. A big lesson from COVID-19 is, you have to maintain your health in any way possible. And something that is in people's control is, don’t get started with smoking or vaping products. We're in our pristine years and we're at an all-time high. I really hate to see kids really ruin their internal body through this chemical that’s really just useless.