Monday morning at 9:55, an email was sent out to the students of Las Lomas containing a survey with the purpose of gauging an approximation of the student e-cigarette use. It included questions asking the participant’s grade, gender, vaping frequency (ranging from never to whenever possible), estimation of Las Lomas’ percentage of vaping students, and knowledge of e-cigarettes.
News of the poll spread across the school quickly enough for nearly 600 people to participate before the day ended, though there was a common misconception associated with it— a lot of people immediately assumed that the information collected would be used to expose those who vape. Interestingly enough, a few people even offered their contact information so they could help with whatever investigation they thought was going on. There was no such intention— the poll was and still is anonymous because the desired data had nothing to do with the participants’ identities, but rather the questions asked in the poll.
More people than I had originally expected claimed that they vape, most even acknowledging that the drug is detrimental to one’s health. Not very many people knew much else, though, judging by their responses. As one anonymous sophomore wrote, “Not much is known about the consequences of vaping.” Another common theme among the poll responses were mindsets such as this anonymous freshman’s: “It’s bad for you, but it’s good so whatever.” This is similar to the way that smoking cigarettes was treated before people lived long enough to figure out some of the more serious long-term effects. Quite a few people shared their knowledge about e-cigarettes such as an anonymous sophomore who explained how “one cartridge is 20 cigarettes,” addressing just how much nicotine is contained in such a small device.
More than 20 students mentioned the school bathrooms, the majority of them annoyed by its misuse, such as an anonymous sophomore who wrote, “I find it annoying when people vape in the bathroom because I don’t want to inhale that nasty air kids are puffing out, also some of us have to pee, do it on your own time.” Based off of various student responses, restroom vaping has become quite a problem. An anonymous freshman even commented, “I once heard a classmate say ‘Why are there toilets in the vape room?’ as a joke.”
It is impossible to tell whether the responses I collected are an accurate representation of Las Lomas’ student body. Nevertheless, people’s different ways of responding to the poll show a great deal about the demographic. Approximately 35.9% of those who participated said that they have used an e-cigarette before, 10.7% of them only having tried it once or twice, 7.2% said they use it occasionally, 1.8% weekly, 4.3% daily, 3.8% daily, 0.4% said that they used to, and the majority of the remaining 7.7% didn’t take the survey seriously. This leaves 64.1%, or 400 people out of the 624 participants having said that they have never vaped before. The most popular flavors for people who said that they vape were mango and strawberry.
Writing up the poll, receiving the responses, and sorting through them was definitely an interesting experience. The variable of whether or not people would be willing to tell the truth on a survey using school emails affected the data, no doubt about it, especially since vaping is illegal for those under age 21. The Page is planning to involve the students, and possibly staff, in more polls soon, so look out for them and please consider participating.