President's Letter

Let’s  talk about Vaping

In 1970, I remember convincing my principal, Fr. Patrick Young, to allow us to convert an unused classroom into a senior lounge, complete with smoking privileges. As a 17-year-old, I thought this was not only pretty cool but justified. After all, everyone smoked. Most of our faculty smoked in the teachers’ lounge. Our new privilege lasted about 2 weeks. After clouds of cigarette smoke billowed through the hall, Fr. Young banned smoking in the senior lounge. What was he thinking in the first place? What were we thinking? The fact was that we were teenagers and weren’t thinking!

Smoking at school was the thing to do. The rock band, Brownsville Station, released a hit song, “Smokin’ in the boys' room”  (1973). We all knew it. We sang along. The song spoke some truth to us. Smoking wasn’t allowed in school, but we did it anyway, mostly in the bathroom.  

Well, we all learned about the dangers of cigarette smoking. Smoking cigarettes does not have the hold on our teenagers as it did on my generation. The good news is smoking cigarettes is not a huge problem in most high school. It certainly is not a problem for us at Saint John’s. Our kids are smarter than to get hooked on cigarettes.

Unfortunately, now we have graduated to the electronic form of cigarette smoking… vaping. Vaping is a problem at our school and at nearly every high school in our country.

So, what do we know about vaping?

We know that we don’t know the short-term or long-term effects of vaping.

We know that many teenagers report that they are engaged in vaping and the increase in teenage use is alarming.

 We know that those who vape inhale numerous chemicals.

We know that some physicians have pointed to the negative effects of vaping on brain development, memory, attention span, and serious lung problems.

We know that recently a number of teenagers and adults have become seriously ill after vaping. A few have even died.

We know, that despite claims to the contrary, the vaping industry appears to be targeting teenagers to get them addicted to vaping.

We know that vaping devices are readily available to our teenagers.


We know that we, as parents and teachers, have an obligation to do something to end teenage use of vaping.


Along with discussing the problems of alcohol, drugs and safe driving with our students we also must now talk to our kids about the real problems of vaping. At Saint John’s,  you will see instructional messages targeted to our students about the dangers of vaping. I have asked our teachers to reinforce this message with our students. 

At Saint John’s Catholic Prep, we will continue a zero-tolerance policy for vaping on our campus. We will confiscate and destroy vaping devices. Students, either vaping or in possession of vaping devices, will have consequences to ensure that they know how serious we are about this health hazard. 

We need your help to send a loud and clear message to our kids that we do this because we care about their health and want to protect them from possible and likely dangers of vaping. If you hear about instances of vaping, please let us know.

When discussing vaping with your child, be aware of the term juuling. Younger people using e-cigarettes typically will use the term juuling not vaping. And if asked by a parent if they are vaping, they will most likely say no. They may also say they are “ripping”. To them vaping is the older person’s e-cigarette. Juul devices are sleek, small, and easy to hide, often looking like a USB drive. Some even look like watches. And one juul pod can equal 20 cigarettes. There are many documented cases of students “ripping” from a device and fainting due to the amount of nicotine taken in at one time. 

The internet has numerous articles for parents on the issue of teenage vaping. I have found the article at to be helpful and will bring you to research and other articles on vaping. Additionally, this article was recently in The Washington Post

Below are a few warning signs for parents from this site:


  • Increased secrecy. Unwilling to discuss or answer questions.
  • Increased irritability and mood changes due to nicotine addiction.
  • Disappearing money.
  • Increased unwillingness to stay home.
  • Increased thirst. Vaping causes dehydration of the skin of the mouth and throat. This leaves users with a dry, flat palate. If your child is increasing their liquid consumption and also peeing more, they may be vaping.
  • A desire for flavor. When the mouth is dried out, flavor perception is lost. Notice if your teen is using more salt or requesting spicy foods.
  • Nosebleeds. In addition to dry mouth, vaping also dries the skin of the nose. When the nose gets dry, it can bleed.
  • Finding paraphernalia around the house.


Thomas H. Powell