FCD stress information, unknowns about escalating e-cigarette use


Photographer: Nadia Benali

Fatima A-S. and Annika T.

Freedom from Chemical Dependency, commonly known as FCD, delivered alarming information last week about the negative health effects of vaping to ASD students, parents and faculty.

FCD representatives visit schools around the world, usually every two years, offering primarily student information and support. In addition, they also canvas students so they can share trends and general health concerns with parents and school personnel. This year, much of their focus in the high school involved the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping.

Students’ use of electronic vaping devices, which spiked sharply at ASD last year, left local parents and faculty with serious concerns and questions. Many have heard reports about illnesses affecting teens’ and young adults’ lungs, illnesses which are being attributed to vaping. Some “mysterious” illnesses have been labeled “epidemics” by medical professionals, and US legislators have accused makers of vaping products of unfairly targeting young people with their marketing and promotions of sweet flavors.

FCD representatives reinforced familiar messages about the dangerous addictiveness of nicotine and the ways the developing brain is more vulnerable to damage from drug sources. However, they also stressed the growing evidence that the plethora of hazardous chemicals in e-cigarettes — along with the lack of standardized government regulation — suggest that teens are probably at far greater risk from vaping than previously thought.

The FCD speakers also updated the results of student surveys they have used to map trends across this region and the world. They noted that while most illicit drug use has decreased, students in every region have reported increased vaping.

In the past school year, some ASD students vaped frequently in both the senior commons and toilets. To deter use in student bathrooms, HS administrators requested the installation of detectors there. They also disciplined a handful of students by enforcing school penalties, such as long-term suspension, and they highlighted these measures in HS student assemblies. In addition to reminding students of ASD-enforced consequences, principals and teachers reminded students of the possibilities of arrest or deportation since all vaping is illegal in Qatar.

As a new trend with potentially dangerous effects, vaping has made headlines worldwide. According to Yale Medicine, in the United States alone, approximately 3.6 million middle and high school students participate in vaping, despite its harmful effects.

In meeting with HS students, FCD speakers also stressed the dangers of narcotics, alcohol, and other drugs. FCD representatives spoke about avoiding peer pressure, how to help others who frequently use stimulants, and the physical damage that can result from ingesting harmful chemicals. 

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